THE CLASH against former coach John Mitchell’s Lions will see just two changes to the starting 15 with Nick Cummins returning from injury and Alfie Mafi back in the side after an electrifying performance against the Rebels last week.
Cummins returns on the wing after a week’s rest to recover from a quadriceps strain and will lead his side onto the field in his 50th Western Force and FxPro Super Rugby cap.
“It’s great to see Nick reach the 50-game milestone and we are looking forward to seeing him back out there and making an impact on the wing,” said Emirates Western Force forwards coach Nick Stiles. “He started off the year in very good form but he fluctuated there for a couple of games and now we want him out on the field as much as possible.
“Nick is a very strong ball-carrier. You look at our side this week with him, Napolioni Nalaga, Will Tupou and Rory Sidey and it’s evident we’ve got a lot of size. It’s up to us now to utilise their power and strength with their running to give us the best potential we can of winning.”
Mafi’s impact from the bench against the Rebels was a pivotal turning point for the side as he injected some much needed speed and energy into the game with a try in the second half. This week will see him start at full-back against the Lions, with David Harvey moving back onto the bench.
Saturday will be the Western Force’s last game before the bye in round 15 and a three-week break for the international Tests so the side is focused on bringing home a win against the Lions and finishing the season on a high.
“It would be great to hit the break on the back of our third win for the year and it would give us a really good target to finish the season off, freshen up and come back and play the last three games and win as many as we can,” said Stiles. “There are still four games to go and we’ve got to win as many of those games as we can because we’ve definitely made some improvements.
“Even though we lost against the Rebels on the weekend we’ve analysed the game and it’s some of the best stuff we’ve done all year. There are still areas we need to work on definitely but we’ve just got to get a better performance through the full 80 minutes.”
Super Rugby Round 14
Western Force v Lions
Saturday, 26 May 2012 at nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 12:40 [GMT]
15. Alfie Mafi, 14. Nick Cummins, 13. Will Tupou, 12. Rory Sidey, 11. Napolioni Nalaga, 10. Ben Seymour, 9. Brett Sheehan, 1. Pek Cowan, 2. Nathan Charles, 3. Salesi Ma’afu, 4. Toby Lynn, 5. Nathan Sharpe, 6. Matt Hodgson, 7. David Pocock, 8. Ben McCalman
16. Elvis Taione, 17. Salesi Manu, 18. Phoenix Battye, 19. Richard Brown, 20. Lachlan McCaffrey, 21. Josh Holmes, 22. David Harvey