The new Western Force captain: David Pocock

Eight internationals line up for Western Force in the 2012 Super Rugby season opener in Canberra this Friday against the Brumbies.

Following 15 weeks of intensive pre-season preparations Coach Richard Graham said his side is eager to make a strong statement as competition points go on the line for the first time in 2012.

“We’ve drawn a line in the sand and the most important thing for us is our start to the game this Friday night,” Graham said. “There is huge excitement and anticipation.  We’ve been going now in pre-season for three and a half months and the boys are really keen to get started.

“Every week the expectation is that you perform at your very best and give yourself a chance to win, that’s certainly the expectation we’ve got on each other heading into this match.”

After being rested throughout the trial match period star lock Nathan Sharpe will pull on his familiar number five jersey in a big boost for the club.

Sharpe dominated the lineout the last time he was in Canberra and will again be looking to give the Emirates Western Force an advantage in the forwards alongside Wallaby backrow trio of David Pocock, Matt Hodgson and Ben McCalman as well as capped props Pek Cowan and new recruit Salesi Ma’afu.

While there are familiar tones to the Emirates Western Force squad, Graham has reinvigorated the Perth side and there will be a number of new faces wearing the ocean blue for the first time.

Marquee winger and Fijian International Napolioni Nalaga will be one to watch having previously dominated the French Top14 competition with Clermont.  In his four seasons in France Nalaga picked up a ‘Top14 Player of the Year’ award as well heading the try scorers list twice.

Other players in line to make their Emirates Western Force debut include lock Toby Lynn and outside centre Winston Stanley, who have been named in the starting XV, while hooker Elvis Taione, and youngsters Phoenix Battye (lock), Angus Cottrell (flanker), Ben Seymour (flyhalf) and Sam Wara (outside back) are on the substitutes’ bench.

Sam Wykes will miss after being unable to shake a hamstring strain in time for the match.

Starting XV:
1. Pek Cowan
2. Nathan Charles
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Toby Lynn
5. Nathan Sharpe
6. Matt Hodgson
7. David Pocock (Captain)
8. Ben McCalman
9. Brett Sheehan
10. James Stannard
11. Napolioni Nalaga
12. Rory Sidey
13. Winston Stanley
14. Nick Cummins
15. Alfie Mafi

16. Elvis Taione
17. Kieran Longbottom
18. Phoenix Battye
19. Angus Cottrell
20. Justin Turner
21. Ben Seymour
22. Sam Wara