Head coach Tim Sampson has named a powerful starting 15 to take on the Melbourne Rebels this Friday in the inaugural Super Rugby AU First Nations Round from 5:45pm at HBF Park as the Western Force search for back-to-back wins.
There are only slight positional shuffles within the squad, with Fergus Lee-Warner moving to the back row at number six and Ryan McCauley set to make his first start for the Force.
Brynard Stander will again lead the side as run-on captain, with halves pairing Tomás Cubelli and Jake McIntyre maintaining their starting places following the win over the NSW Waratahs in Sydney last week.
New signing Sitaleki Timani is set to mark his return to the Force where he began his career, with the Wallabies lock named in the matchday 23.
Promising young Australian hooker Jack Winchester returns to the matchday squad, with Samoan World Cup international centre Henry Taefu and versatile back Jack McGregor also named on the bench and set to make their first Super Rugby appearance of the season.
Sampson noted consistency as a key factor for this week’s team selection.
“It’s important to have continuity. Everyone contributed greatly last week, especially in terms of their composure and calmness on the field,” Sampson explained.
“It was a polished performance from the halves pairing and to have a very similar run-on 15 is great.
“The Rebels are a physical side, so it’s important that everyone sticks to their roles. We’ve got intelligent players throughout the squad with a great balance of youth and experienced players that complement each other.”
1,Tom Robertson, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Jeremy Thrush, 5. Ryan McCauley, 6. Fergus Lee-Warner, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Tomás Cubelli, 10. Jake McIntyre, 11. TBC, 12. Richard Kahui, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Rob Kearney.
16. Jack Winchester, 17. Angus Wagner, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Sitaleki Timani, 20. Tomás Lezana, 21. Ian Prior, 22. Henry Taefu, 23. Jack McGregor.