Lock Jeremy Thrush will lead the Force when the team faces the ACT Brumbies in the Super Rugby AU round 4 clash at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney’s inner west this Saturday.
The veteran second-rower’s promotion to captain comes as the Force make four changes to their match squad, including the sidelining of regular skipper Ian Prior through injury.
Prior’s place at scrumhalf will be taken by Wallaby Nick Frisby, who joined the Force earlier this month after several seasons in the UK, most recently with the Glasgow Warriors. In another change to the starting XV, inside centre Henry Taefu is promoted to the starting line-up in place of Nick Jooste, who drops out of the match 23 this week.
Thrush is an experienced campaigner who has previously captained the Hurricanes and has more than 100 Super Rugby caps to his credit. His leadership from the centre of the pack will be a key factor for the Force against the Brumbies, who so far have two wins from as many starts in the competition.
Frisby spent five seasons with the Queensland Reds, earning 66 Super Rugby caps, before moving to the UK. Taefu, meanwhile, returns to the starting line-up after being on the bench for the clashes against the Waratahs and the Reds. He has played a crucial role for the Force over the past two seasons, as well as representing Samoa in the 2019 World Cup, and will add a physical edge in the Force midfield.
There are two changes on the bench where former All Black Richard Kahui, who signed for the Force last week, and young prop Tom Sheminant have been brought into the match 23.
Kahui, who has spent the past seven years playing in Japan and has 68 previous Super Rugby caps for the Chiefs and the Highlanders, takes Taefu’s place among the reserves as cover at centre or wing. The 2011 World Cup winner is highly rated by Force director of rugby Matt Hodgson who is eager to see him get his first run in the blue and black.
“It’s not just his on-field exploits that we’re excited about, as his insight and winning mentality are sure to prove invaluable for the entire team,” Hodgson said.
“His knowledge of the game, defensive ability and the level of professionalism he brings to training will be huge for our season.”
Home-grown Nedlands talent Sheminant replaces injured veteran Wallaby prop Greg Holmes, who featured against the Waratahs and the Reds over the past two weeks.
Western Force: 1 Angus Wagner, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 3 Kieran Longbottom, 4 Jeremy Thrush (captain), 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 6 Henry Stowers, 7 Tevin Ferris, 8 Brynard Stander (vice-captain), 9 Nick Frisby 10 Jono Lance, 11 Brad Lacey, 12 Henry Taefu, 13 Marcel Brache, 14 Byron Ralston, 15 Jack McGregor.
Bench: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Tom Sheminant, 19 Ollie Atkins, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Jacob Abel, 22 Richard Kahui, 23 Kyle Godwin.
The Force will take on the ACT Brumbies at Leichhardt Oval, NSW, this Saturday night at our first Vodafone Super Rugby AU home game. Kick-off at 5.15pm AWST.