Emirates Western Force Coach John Mitchell has named his team for Friday night’s season-opening Investec Super 14 clash with the Sharks at ABSA Stadium in Durban
Rugby WA announces that the clash with last year’s finalists is the first of three matches in South Africa for the Perth-based team, who will meet the Cheetahs and Lions before returning to Perth to make their home debut against the Crusaders on March 9.
Port Macquarie-born winger Nick Cummins will make his Investec Super 14 debut after winning selection on the right wing.
Cummins, who was Australia’s top try scorer for last year’s iRB Sevens World Series, earns his place in the starting side with three more rookies named on a new-look reserves bench.
Cummins (20) will join a host of experienced campaigners in the starting lineup, including World Cup Wallabies Nathan Sharpe, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Scott Staniforth and Cameron Shepherd.
Richard Brown and Scott Fava will start the season in new roles, swapping their regular positions with Fava to run out in the number 6 jersey and Brown at Number 8.
Mitchell has named three more potential debutantes on the reserves bench, with 24-year-old Brisbane-born scrumhalf James Stannard joining lock Sitaleki Timani and 21-year-old league convert Josh Tatupu for the first time in the selectedmatch 22.
Mitchell admitted that several selection battles were tight, but he opted for experience against the three-time Super Rugby runner-up.
“I don’t know how you’d define a full strength team but we’ve certainly opted for players with more experience in this competition,” said Mitchell.
“A number of positions were close and we’re delighted with the way some of the younger squad members are pushing through.”
“We’ve got three young guys on the reserves bench who will get their first opportunity to experience rugby at this level and a couple of others in the squad who will get an opportunity in the starting team during this tour,” he said.
Overall head to head: Played 2, Sharks 1, Emirates Western Force 1.
Last met: 30 March 2007, EWF 22 def Sharks 12, Subiaco Oval, Perth.
Emirates Western Force v Sharks
Friday 15 February, 2008
The Absa Stadium Durban
Kick off: 7.10pm (2.10am WA Sat 16 Feb)
Emirates Western Force
Starting XV: 1. Gareth Hardy, 2. Tai McIsaac, 3. AJ Whalley, 4. David Pusey, 5. Nathan Sharpe (c), 6. Scott Fava, 7. David Pocock, 8. Richard Brown, 9. Matt Henjak, 10. Matt Giteau (vc), 11. Drew Mitchell, 12. Scott Staniforth, 13. Ryan Cross, 14. Nick Cummins 15. Cameron Shepherd.
Reserves: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Troy Takiari, 18. Sitaleki Timani, 19. Matt Hodgson, 20. James Stannard, 21. Scott Daruda, 22. Josh Tatupu.Tweet