Cowan hits 100 for Force

Date published: April 23 2015

Western Force prop Pek Cowan will play his 100th game for the Perth-based side when they face the Chiefs in Hamilton on Friday.

The 28-year-old loosehead was one of the inaugural members of the Force and joins captain Matt Hodgson (113 caps) as the only players to have reached the 100-match mark for the Western Australian club.

Cowan said he's honoured to reach the 100-cap milestone.

"I can remember my debut for the club really clearly, it was at Subiaco and I came off the bench against the Waratahs," he said.

"We didn't go so well but from that day I vowed that I wanted play many more games for the Force and I'm so thankful I've had that opportunity to do that.

"I'm so grateful I've been able to stay here for 10 years and play some good rugby. To play 100 games of Super Rugby is a huge achievement but do it as a one club player makes it even more special."

Meanwhile, Hodgson will make his first Super Rugby appearance for the year on Friday when he returns from a hamstring injury sustained in a pre-season fixture against the Asia Pacific Dragons.

The Force skipper will return to his familiar openside flank and join number eight Ben McCalman and blindside flanker Angus Cottrell in a back-row combination that started in 11 of 16 matches during the 2014 season.

A foot injury to interim captain Sam Wykes sees Steve Mafi shift from side of the scrum into the second row.

In the backline, Ian Prior will start his first match of 2015, replacing scrumhalf Alby Mathewson, who has been sidelined with a knee injury.

On the bench, scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens is in line to make his Super Rugby debut after a knee injury – requiring a reconstruction – scuppered his 2014 season.

Flanker Kane Koteka makes his return to the squad after being rested against the Stormers following a concussion while big lock Wilhelm Steenkamp will also start from the Western Force reserves list.

Head Coach Michael Foley said Cowan has been a stalwart across the club's 10 seasons.

"One hundred matches at this level is a special achievement for both Pek and his family," he said. "It's testament to the sacrifices they've made together, which have led to Pek being a consistently high performer over 10 years.

"Last week's performance was a better reflection of how we want to play as a team. The momentum we achieved [against the Stormers] was much improved and we created a number of opportunities as a result. Composure and early and simple communication will ensure we finish more of what we're creating."

Western Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Luke Burton, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Wilhelm Steenkamp, 20 Kane Koteka, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Junior Rasolea, 23 Marcel Brache.

Date: Friday, April 24
Venue: Waikato Stadium, Hamilton
Kick-off: 19:35 local (07:35 GMT, 17:35 AEST, 09:35 SAST )
Referee: Angus Gardner (Australia)
Assistant referees: Kane McBride (New Zealand), Mike Lash (New Zealand)
TMO: Glenn Newman (New Zealand)