Western Force coach John Mitchell has made just one change to his starting XV for Friday’s clash with the Chiefs in Waikato, with flanker Tamaiti Horua replacing the injured Richard Brown.
Brown strained his left shoulder in the Force’s 25-16 win over the Brumbies in Canberra last Saturday.
The AAP reports that Horua has been elevated to the blindside flank, with Matt Hodgson moving to the back of the scrum.
Horua, who started the opening two matches of the Force’s 2009 campaign in the No.6 jersey, returns to that role after a spell on the reserves bench last weekend.
On the bench, 50-cap veteran David Pusey has been named in the match 22 for the first time this season after being drafted into the touring squad to replace the injured Brown, while 117kg prop AJ Whalley replaces Kieran Longbottom after missing two matches with an ankle sprain.
Whalley was originally scheduled to play a club rugby trial fixture for Warringah in Sydney this weekend, but was drafted into the team to bolster the front row stocks.
Inside centre Junior Pelesasa retains his place in the run-on side ahead of 18-year-old James O’Connor, while Cameron Shepherd has again been named on the wing after his three-try haul against the Brumbies.
The Chiefs are yet to win a game this season but Mitchell remained wary of the NZ side.
“The Chiefs have had opportunities to win each of their matches so far and their position on the table is not really a reflection of where they’re at,” Mitchell said.
“They’ve played the top three sides and have been very committed and once again they’ll be desperate to perform well at home.”
15.Drew Mitchell; 14.Nick Cummins, 13.Ryan Cross, 12.Junior Pelesasa, 11.Cameron Shepherd; 10.Matt Giteau, 9.Josh Valentine; 8.Matt Hodgson, 7.David Pocock, 6.Tamaiti Horua; 5.Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4.Tom Hockings; 3.Ben Castle, 2.Tai McIsaac, 1.Pek Cowan.
16.Luke Holmes, 17.A.J. Whalley, 18.David Pusey, 19.Richard Stanford, 20.Chris O’Young, 21.James O’Connor, 22.Haig Sare.