2nd July 2009, 12:30 WST

Scrum-half Brett Sheehan is excited by the prospect of linking up with South African fly-half Andre Pretorius at the Western Force next season.

The former Waratah and Lion are likely to form a new combination in the halves following the departure of Josh Valentine and Matt Giteau, though Sheehan will face stiff opposition from Chris O’Young for the No.9 jersey.

“It’s still no definite that I’ve got the starting spot, Chris O’Young’s a great footballer,” Sheehan said.

“It’s always good to have competition. It was frustrating at times (fighting for a spot at the Waratahs with Luke Burgess), but that’s selections and that’s how it goes.

“You’ve just got do deal with it and when you do get on the field make the most of your opportunities.”

Sheehan was full of praise for former Springbok Pretorius, who has signed as the Force’s international marquee player for next season.

“It’s a great signing for the Force. He’s an experienced player and his form showed this year with the Lions he’s still a great player and brilliant player,” Sheehan said.
“From a backline point a view, he’ll control things and direct us around the park, so I’m very excited.
“I think we’re both experienced enough players to be able to form a pretty good combination pretty quickly and it will be good for us.”

Sheehan arrived at Force HQ this morning with front-row recruit Matt Dunning for two days of orientation and testing with their new teammates.

Dunning missed the 2009 Super 14 campaign due to an Achilles injury which kept him out of the game for five and half months.

He admitted to initially fearing the worst, but feels good after a solid return to the game with Sydney club side Eastwood.

“I’ve been playing for the last five or six weeks in club football in Sydney. I’m feeling good and looking forward to playing a few more games this year,” Dunning said.

“Initially there were a few doubts, but once I got back and saw my specialist, who’s made a fair bit of money out of me in the last 10 years, he reassured me.”

Dunning and Sheehan (Warringah) will return to Sydney to complete their club seasons this week before rejoining the Force for pre-season training, which begins on October 19.