The Western Force have named Sam Wykes and Jayden Hayward in their starting line up to take on the Bulls at the ‘Force Field’ (nib Stadium) on Saturday.
Wykes has recovered from a rib injury and returns to the starting pack, alongside second-rower Adam Coleman, who was impressive in his starting debut for the Force against the Melbourne Rebels last weekend. Lock Wilhelm Steenkamp will provide coverage from the bench in his first appearance against his former club since joining the Western Force ahead of the 2014 Super Rugby season.
Hayward returns to his customary fullback position with Dane Haylett-Petty, who started in the ’15’ jersey against the Rebels, moving to the wing. Prop Kieran Longbottom will become the first Western Australian born-and-raised player to play 50 Super Rugby matches for the Western Force when he takes to the field on Saturday. Longbottom was a member of the inaugural RugbyWA Academy program in 2006 and went on to make his Super Rugby debut against the Chiefs in Perth in 2008. The 28-year-old has started at tighthead in all eight matches for the Western Force in 2014.
Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his side is looking forward returning home to the ‘Force Field’ to take on the three-time Super Rugby champions. “In the last three weeks the boys have tackled one of the toughest sections of the season; three consecutive derbies with travel across the country for each match is a significant challenge,” he said. “While we were disappointed in aspects of our game against the Rebels, the win against the Reds away and our first ever win against the Waratahs at home were great signs of the progress the boys have made.
“This weekend marks the first of four consecutive games against South African opponents who present a different type of challenge to Australian and New Zealand teams. South African sides use their set piece and kicking games as weapons and we will need to perform well in both these areas to achieve success in the next month. “As the first Perth player to achieve 50 games for the club, Kieran’s milestone is a great reward for his perseverance and determination to constantly chase improvement. I’m certain all the boys are keen to see him rewarded for his commitment to the team.”
The match will see the Western Force chase a club record-equalling fourth straight home win after victories over the Rebels, Chiefs and Waratahs this season. The last time the club achieved the feat was in 2007 with wins over the Hurricanes, Reds, Sharks and Cheetahs.
1. Pek Cowan,2. Nathan Charles,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Adam Coleman,5. Sam Wykes,6. Angus Cottrell,7. Matt Hodgson (c),8. Ben McCalman,9. Ian Prior,10. Sias Ebersohn,11. Nick Cummins ,12. Kyle Godwin,13. Marcel Brache,14. Dane Haylett-Petty,15. Jayden Hayward
Replacements : 16. Heath Tessmann,17. Tetera Faulkner ,18. Ollie Hoskins,19. Wilhelm Steenkamp,20. Brynard Stander,21. Justin Turner,22. Zack Holmes ,23. Chris Tuatara-Morrison