Western Force make four changes
April 19, 2013
Pek Cowan says Western Force are primed for the Hurricanes © Getty Images
Western Force coach Michael Foley has made four changes to his starting side for the Super Rugby round 10 match against the Hurricanes in Wellington, with prop Tetera Faulkner, flanker Angus Cottrell, outside centre Winston Stanley and winger Patrick Dellit introduced to the run-on side that defeated the Crusaders in Perth.
Stanley returns to the midfield after scoring a try and setting up a second for Dellit a fortnight ago against Melbourne Rebels, replacing Kyle Godwin, who has been rested, while Cottrell returns to the blindside flank where he has started in six of the Force's eight matches in 2013. Faulkner has worked his way into the starting tight-head role after several dynamic performances off the bench, replacing Salesi Ma'afu, who has a knee injury.
Dellit also returns to the run-on side on the right wing, joining Ed Stubbs and former Hurricanes player Jayden Hayward in the back three. Alfie Mafi, the competition's equal leading try-scorer, will start from the bench having ranked among the highest running metres through the first half of the competition. Mafi has been given a break in recognition of his heavy workload this season. Prop Kieran Longbottom returns to the Force line-up via the bench, after missing last weekend's match following a head knock sustained against the Rebels.
Foley said his team had to back up after the win over the Crusaders. "Last week the players set a new standard in preparation against the Crusaders, which reflected in how we played," he said. "We worked extremely hard for each other and it's important we push for more of the same against another quality New Zealand side."
Force prop Pek Cowan, meanwhile, is confident the team is finally ready to shed the tag of "inconsistent". For years, the Force have teased their fans with Herculean performances against the competition's best sides, only to fall in a heap against strugglers. This season has been a perfect example of that. The Force have twice lost to the lowly Rebels, while they also suffered a deflating loss to the newly formed Southern Kings, but they've looked ominous against the heavyweights - posting wins against Queensland Reds and the Crusaders, and falling just short of notching an upset win over the Bulls in South Africa.
"We've made massive changes in terms of accountability on the individual," Cowan said. "We're a team that, above all else, sticks with our mate and looks after the guy next to us, as opposed to relying on one or two players to win a game for us. I definitely feel there's a lot more confidence in the squad. Winning is that ultimate satisfaction.
"Last week was a great win. But this week is just as important - if not more important - to take away that persona of only being able to play one good game here or there. We want to be known as a team that can consistently perform."
Force: Jayden Hayward; Patrick Dellit, Winston Stanley, Junior Rasolea, Ed Stubbs; Sam Norton-Knight, Alby Mathewson; Richard Brown, Matt Hodgson (captain), Angus Cottrell; Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn; Tetera Faulkner, Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan. Replacements: James Hilterbrand, Kieran Longbottom, Rory Walton, Chris Alcock, Mick Snowden, Sias Ebersohn, Alfie Mafi.
The Force were deserving winners against the Crusaders (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand with AAP
Tom Hamilton pays a visit to Oxford University Women's Rugby Football Club who have recently made headlines across the world, from Tokyo to New York
"Gentlemen, if you want to see the World Cup going south yet again, you are going the right way about it," John Taylor looks at the state of European rugby
The Heineken Cup proved once again just why it is the best domestic rugby competition in the world at the weekend and Monday Maul picks out some of the key talking points