Force leans heavily on Argentinean imports
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Western Force travel to Melbourne this week as they take on the Rebels in a Round Eight Super Rugby AU clash on Friday.
Coach Tim Sampson has made several changes to the starting side that took on the Brumbies in Canberra in Round Six, including the highly anticipated return of homegrown star Kyle Godwin.
The capped Wallaby suffered a foot injury before the season opener and has since been sidelined.
Godwin has been named at inside centre and will also be leading the team out as captain for the very first time.
Argentinean international Santiago Medrano replaces the injured Greg Holmes at tighthead prop, while his fellow Los Pumas teammates Tomás Lezana, Tomás Cubelli and Domingo Miotti are set to start at No.8, No.9 and No.10 respectively.
This marks the first time the Argentinean quartet will take to the field all in the starting XV for the Force.
After making his Western Force and Super Rugby debut against the Brumbies a fortnight ago, English speedster Jordan Olowofela has been named on the wing.
Andrew Ready returns from suspension, while club stalwart Kieran Longbottom and local product Grason Makara are in line to make their first appearances of the Super Rugby AU season.
Two players from the extended replacements list will be omitted from the matchday 23 for Friday’s game, but have travelled with the squad.
Western Force: 15 Jack McGregor, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin (captain), 11 Jordan Olowofela, 10 Domingo Miotti, 9 Tomás Cubelli, 8 Tomás Lezana, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements – from: Andrew Ready, Jack Winchester, Angus Wagner, Kieran Longbottom, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Brynard Stander, Ian Prior, Grason Makara, Richard Kahui.
Date: Friday, April 9
Venue: Melbourne Rectangular Stadium
Kick-off: 19.45 (17.45 AWST; 09.45 GMT)
Referee: Damon Murphy
Assistant referees: Amy Perrett, James Quinn
TMO: James Leckie