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Wednesday, February 10, 2010


The Force will unleash a very strong side to take on the Brumbies, who themselves will roll out all of their big guns at the new ME Bank Stadium. Props Nic Henderson and Matt Dunning will combine with Pek Cowan to give the Force an all Wallaby front row (with 49 tests), while international lock and captain Nathan Sharpe will play his 50th game for the Force.n the back row, Wallabies David Pocock and Richard Brown will combine with Matt Hodgson - the tenth time the trio have partnered together.As many as eight new Force players will take the field.

Two new boys, Brett Sheehan and Mark Bartholomeusz, will play in the halves, with the latter the first cab of the rank to fill the shoes of injured Springbok Andre Pretorius.

Test players Ryan Cross and James O'Connor, at centre and fullback respectively, complete a solid looking side despite the fact that they lost key players last year.

The Brumbies have named Wallaby front liners Matt Giteau and Rocky Elsom in their side, but the talented playmaker has been bracketed in the fly-half role along with Australian U20 playmaker Matt Toomua.

Three Wallabies in Ben Alexander, Stephen Moore and Guy Shepherdson will play in the front row, while Justin Harrison makes his first appearence for the Brumbies since playing against the Blues in 2003.

It is a Brumbies team that has been tagged as a potential championship winning team, with an all Australian test forward pack and a further four Wallabies in the backline.

Brumbies coach Andy Friend is wary about risking Giteau.

"Matt's still touch and go at this stage," he said.

"You never want to leave a player like that out of the side and we'll be giving him every opportunity to play against his old side."

"He's comfortable with where he's at at the moment and the medical staff has been pleased with how it's been progressing."

"We'll be giving him up until the last possible minute on Friday but we're very mindful that you don't want to be risking someone like that should they not be 100 per cent ready to go."

Meanwhile the Force, who are on a four game winning streak against Australian opposition, are looking forward to the new season according to coach John Mitchell.

"We have confidence in what we have built and are looking forward to transferring that into competition," said Mitchell.

"The group has a real sense of maturity about what we expect and what want to do.

"We go to a new home which we're excited about but we have to bring our side of the bargain and can't just rely on a stadium to bring the results. It's now about performance, this group is clearly committed to each other and is a very enjoyable group to work with.

"It has been a good pre-season but it's now the real deal and we're looking forward to it," Mitchell added.

Western Force

1. Nic Henderson , 2. Pek Cowan , 3. Matt Dunning , 4. Sam Wykes , 5. Nathan Sharpe (c) , 6. Matt Hodgson , 7. David Pocock (vc) , 8. Richard Brown , 9. Brett Sheehan , 10. Mark Bartholomeusz , 11. Cameron Shepherd , 12. Sam Harris , 13. Ryan Cross , 14. Dane Haylett-Petty , 15. James O'Connor Reserves: 16. Ben Whittaker , 17. Tim Fairbrother , 18. Richard Stanford , 19. Ben McCalman , 20. Chris O'Young , 21. Mitch Inman , 22. Josh Tatupu


15 Adam Ashley-Cooper, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Stirling Mortlock, 12 Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Giteau (Matt Toomua), 9 Josh Valentine, 8 Stephen Hoiles (c), 7 George Smith, 6 Rocky Elsom, 5 Justin Harrison, 4 Mark Chisholm, 3 Guy Shepherdson, 2 Stephen Moore, 1 Ben Alexander. Replacements: 16 Huia Edmonds, 17 Salesi Maafu, 18 Ben Hand, 19 Mitchell Chapman, 20 Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Alfi Mafi, (23 Afusipa Taumoepeau).

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