Irish star to make Super Rugby debut for Force
TEAM ANNOUNCEMENT: The Western Force will debut five players in Friday’s blockbuster season opener against the reigning champion Brumbies.
Wallabies stars Tevita Kuridrani and Tom Robertson, Argentinians Santiago Medrano and Tomás Lezana, as well as Irish great Rob Kearney have all been named in the starting line-up.
Captain Ian Prior will lead the team out for the Force’s first Super Rugby match in WA since 2017, exactly three years, seven months and four days ago.
Along with the new recruits, fans will see familiar faces in Brynard Stander, Jono Lance and Marcel Brache, as well as homegrown players Kane Koteka and Kyle Godwin.
After a breakout year earning himself the 2020 Nathan Sharpe (Best and Fairest) Medal, Fergus Lee-Warner will be looking to continue his fine form on the big stage.
Depth has been a crucial focus for head coach Tim Sampson during the off-season and the names in the reserves are a testament to the club’s recruiting. Former Wallaby prop Greg Holmes and World Cup-winning All Black Richard Kahui are both poised to make an impact.
Experienced Argentinian playmaker Tomás Cubelli and an Australian contingent, including dynamic flyhalf Jake McIntyre, Australian 7s representative Tim Anstee (Super Rugby debut) and towering lock Ryan McCauley, are all set to make their potential Force debuts from the bench.
Western Force: 15 Robert Kearney, 14 Byron Ralston, 13 Tevita Kuridrani, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Jono Lance, 9 Ian Prior (captain), 8 Brynard Stander, 7 Kane Koteka, 6 Tomás Lezana, 5 Fergus Lee-Warner, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 3 Santiago Medrano, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u, 1 Tom Robertson.
Replacements: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Angus Wagner, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Ryan McCauley, 20 Tim Anstee, 21 Tomás Cubelli, 22 Jake McIntyre, 23 Richard Kahui.
Date: Friday, February 19
Venue: HBF Park, Perth
Kick-off: 19.00 (11.00 GMT)
Referee: Graham Cooper
Assistant referees: Sam Jones & Jordan Kaminski
TMO: Kyle Burnett