Matt Hodgson and Sam Wykes return
March 22, 2013
Western Force captain Matt Hodgson has recovered from his hamstring injury © Getty Images
Matt Hodgson and Sam Wykes are in line to return from injury when Western Force host the Cheetahs in their first home fixture of the season in the redeveloped nib Stadium on Saturday night. Wallabies winger Nick Cummins remains on the sidelines, however, as he is yet to overcome a knee injury.
Hodgson missed the win against Queensland Reds to attend the birth of his first child, but he was also grateful for the rest having aggregated a hamstring injury against the Bulls in Pretoria. Wykes, meanwhile, has recovered from the ankle injury sustained in training that forced him to miss the match against Queensland.
Force coach Michael Foley said the team had to build on the victory against Queensland if they were to win over fans in Perth long term. "An important part of our development will be to earn the respect of our people through the way we perform in our home," Foley said. "Last week, we showed great character in the way we supported each other through the 80 minutes. To hold the Reds tryless was important, as we face another strong attacking side this week."
The Force face in-form opponents, with the Cheetahs arriving in Perth after recording back-to-back away wins against the Highlanders and New South Wales Waratahs. The visitors, however, must overcome the loss of fly-half Johan Goosen to a season-ending knee injury.
The match will pit Western Force fly-half Sias Ebersohn against his twin - Cheetahs centre Robert Ebersohn - for the first time. It is also notable for marking the 50th Super Rugby appearance of Force winger Alfie Mafi. The winger has played 33 matches over three seasons for the Force, having previously represented the Waratahs (nine matches in 2008) and the Brumbies (seven matches in 2009 and 2010).
Western Force thoroughly deserved their victory over Queensland Reds (video available only in Australia)
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
ESPN looks at the forthcoming season of the Guinness PRO12 and assesses how each of the 12 teams will do
"Like the Treaty of Versailles, despite all the promises, the new Participation Agreement is certainly not the final solution." John Taylor writes
"We know where we are going and we know where we want to get but how long that will take is anybody's guess." David Humphreys on his plans for Gloucester
Jim Mallinder and Justin Burnell were sat on the same top table, but in different circumstances. Tom Hamilton reports on the Aviva Premiership season launch