Force bring out their big guns

Fri, 22 Feb 2013 17:21
Large matt hodgson   gareth delve Large nick cummins ball 630 Large matt hodgson pass 630 Large nick cummins dives 630

The Western Force will welcome captain Matt Hodgson, wing Nick Cummins and off-season recruit Hugh McMeniman into their starting XV.

The Western Force will welcome captain Matt Hodgson, wing Nick Cummins and off-season recruit Hugh McMeniman into their starting XV to play the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.

The three Wallaby representatives did not take part in last weekend's 23-30 loss to the Rebels in Melbourne.

Hodgson returns from a hamstring injury and McMeniman was a late withdrawal from the side due to a pectoral strain.

Cummins started in Force A's 23-16 win over Rebel Rising, in his first appearance for the year after sustaining a knock to his knee during pre-season training and not participating in either of the side's trial matches.

Hodgson will become the eighth player in the Western Force's history to captain the side in Super Rugby and will run on at openside flank replacing Chris Alcock, who will start as one of five forwards on the Western Australian bench.

McMeniman is set to make his first appearance in Super Rugby since his final season with the Queensland Reds in 2009. The 29-year-old will pack down alongside Sam Wykes in the second row, behind an unchanged front row of Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

Cummins represents the sole change to the Western Force backline that produced an impressive first-up performance in their maiden start together against the Rebels.

The Wallaby flyer replaces Pat Dellit on the right wing after Dellit was forced to return home with facial fractures and an ankle injury sustained against the Rebels. He is expected to be available for selection for the Force's Week Five match against the Reds in Brisbane.

Saturday's match represents the Kings' first in Super Rugby after replacing the Lions in the South African conference.

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley said he was keen for his side to build on its performance against the Rebels.

"We're fortunate to be in a position to bring in Hodgo, Hugh and Nick for Saturday," he said.

"Last week there were some promising signs that we're heading in the right direction. Our challenge is to continue to develop as a team and persevere with the style of game we've begun to play.

"We're looking forward to the challenge that awaits the side on Saturday."

Western Force: 15 Will Tupou, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Alfie Mafi, 10 Sam Christie, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (captain), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Toby Lynn, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Chris Alcock, 21 Mick Snowden, 22 Junior Rasolea.

Date: Saturday, February 23
Venue: Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Kick-off: 19.10 (17.10 GMT; 01.10 Sunday, February 24 AWST)
Referee: Lourens van der Merwe (South Africa)
Assistant referees: Stuart Berry (South Africa), Christie du Preez (South Africa)
TMO: Johann Meuwessen (South Africa)

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Team P W D L Pts
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Reds 11 3 0 8 16
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Rebels 11 1 1 9 8
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Team P W D L Pts
Crusaders 12 12 0 0 54
Hurricanes 11 9 0 2 43
Chiefs 11 9 0 2 43
Highlanders 12 9 0 3 41
Blues 12 6 0 6 31
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Team P W D L Pts
Stormers 11 7 0 4 30
Bulls 11 3 0 8 15
Cheetahs 12 2 0 10 11
Sunwolves 11 1 0 10 7
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Team P W D L Pts
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Kings 11 4 0 7 19