Western Force Coach John Mitchell has named his team for Saturday’s Investec Super 14 Week 6 clash with the Highlanders in Queenstown, NZ.
Rugby WA reports that the popular holiday destination on New Zealand’s South Island will play host to the Perth side’s final tour hit out following last week’s ground breaking first victory on Kiwi soil over the Blues in Auckland.
Mitchell has made subtle changes to his starting lineup, bringing in three fresh faces for his team’s fifth away match of the season.
21-year-old kiwi-born prop Pek Cowan has been handed the number 1 jersey for the second time this season, while Chris O’Young makes a return to the starting XV at scrumhalf.
In a re-shuffle of the back row, Tamaiti Horua has been recalled to the blindside flank while Scott Fava reverts to the bench.
David Pocock has overcome a hamstring strain and returns to the openside flank after his late withdrawal from last Saturday’s clash in Auckland.
“At this stage of the season, after five games on the road, we’ve got to monitor the condition of our players and we’ve brought in some fresh legs this week to energise the group,” said Mitchell.
The Perth-based team enters the match having lost both of its previous encounters with the Highlanders by the narrowest of margins (8-7 in 2007 and 25-22 in 2006).
Mitchell said despite the Highlanders’ winless 2008 record, past results serve as a reminder to his team of the courage and tenacity of their opponents on Saturday.
“The Highlanders are a team that will keep fighting until the last minute,” said Mitchell.
“Their position on the ladder is a little misleading because they’ve been in a position to win every one of their matches so far this season. They’ve lost each match by seven points or less and will be absolutely desperate to pick up their first win,” he said.
Overall head to head: Played 2, Highlanders 2, EWF 0.
Last met: 2 February 2007, Highlanders 8 def EWF 7, Subiaco Oval, Perth.
Emirates Western Force v Highlanders
Saturday 22 March, 2008
Queenstown Events Centre, Queenstown, NZ
Kick off: 2.30pm (10.30am WA)
Emirates Western Force:1. Pek Cowan, 2. Tai McIsaac, 3. AJ Whalley, 4. Tom Hockings, 5. Nathan Sharpe (c), 6. Tamaiti Horua, 7. David Pocock, 8. Richard Brown, 9. Chris O’Young, 10. Matt Giteau (vc), 11. Drew Mitchell, 12. Lachlan MacKay, 13. Ryan Cross, 14. Scott Staniforth, 15. Cameron Shepherd.
Reserves: 16. Luke Holmes, 17. Troy Takiari, 18. Sam Wykes, 19. Scott Fava, 20. James Stannard, 21. Scott Daruda, 22. Nick Cummins.