Western Force head coach Tim Sampson has named four club debutants in the starting XV for Sunday’s Round 1 clash against the ACT Brumbies at GIO Stadium in Canberra.
Wallabies lock Izack Rodda, flyhalf Reesjan Pasitoa, Fiji winger Manasa Mataele and utility back Bayley Kuenzle will all be making their first appearance in a Force jersey on Sunday.
It’s a milestone match for hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, with the Wallaby prepared to lead the club as captain for the very first time in Super Rugby on Sunday.
It’s a formidable front-row stacked with international experience, with Tom Robertson (Wallabies – 26 Caps), Santiago Medrano (Argentina – 42 Caps) and Kaitu’u (Wallabies – 3 Caps) selected to start.
It’s an exciting mercurial duo comprised of Mataele and Toni Pulu on the left and right wings respectively for Round 1.
Club mainstays Fergus Lee-Warner (left lock), Brynard Stander (left flanker), Kane Koteka (right flanker), Ian Prior (scrum-half) and vice-captain Kyle Godwin (outside centre) form a familiar spine, with Tim Anstee (number eight), Kuenzle (inside centre) and Jake Strachan (full-back) rounding out the starting side.
Returning players Harry Lloyd and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa are set to make their long-awaited return for the Force after re-joining from the Brumbies during the off-season. The pair have been named on the replacements list loaded with experience and energy.
1.Tom Robertson, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u (c), 3. Santiago Medrano, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Izack Rodda*, 6. Brynard Stander, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Tim Anstee, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Reesjan Pasitoa*, 11. Manasa Mataele*, 12. Bayley Kuenzle*, 13. Kyle Godwin (vc), 14. Toni Pulu, 15. Jake Strachan.
16. Andrew Ready, 17. Harrison Lloyd, 18. Greg Holmes, 19. Ryan McCauley, 20. Ollie Callan, 21. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22. Jake McIntyre, 23. Richard Kahui.
*Western Force debutant.