Force switch two to face champions

Date published: March 30 2016

Force have made two changes to their run-on side for the clash with last year’s champions the Highlanders in Dunedin on Friday.

Wallaby Ben McCalman comes back into the fold at number eight and Luke Morahan returns to the right wing, after missing the first two games of the New Zealand tour with a foot injury.

Head coach Michael Foley says a full ground defensive effort is needed against the current champions.

“The Highlanders play tough, smart rugby. Last week, they had one line break, but scored 4 tries, which is an indicator of how they vary their attack with ball in hand and kicking,” he said.

“The key for us is to consistently apply pressure across 80 minutes.

“We asked good questions in the first half last week and created some good scoring opportunities, but we need to ensure we put ourselves in a position to keep attacking for the full game.”

An unchanged front row will look to carry momentum from a strong set piece performance last week when they lock horns with a powerful Highlanders front row.

Ross Haylett-Petty and Adam Coleman will again partner in the second row, after strong performances from both men.

While Ben McCalman comes back in to the back row alongside skipper Matt Hodgson and Angus Cottrell will start at blindside flanker.

Alby Mathewson will start at scrum-half after one of his strongest performances of the year last weekend and veteran Peter Grant will marshal the troops at fly-half.

Solomoni (Junior) Rasolea will again start at inside centre and Ben Tapuai will look to continue his good form in the number 13 jersey.

Electrifying winger Morahan races back into the team and will be keen to pick up where he left off against the Brumbies. Semisi Masirewa will man the left wing after a strong match and Dane Haylett-Petty rounds out the starting XV.

Big man Steve Mafi will look to bring some energy from the bench, while Future Force product Richard Hardwick is set to make his Asteron Life Super Rugby debut.

Ryan Louwrens will again come off the bench and hope to play his second match of the season. Ian Prior was strong off the bench last week and will look to do the same again, while Albert Nikoro will want to spark the attack if given the opportunity.

Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 Solomoni (Junior) Rasolea, 11 Semisi Masirewa, 10 Peter Grant, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Ross Haylett-Petty, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pekahou Cowan
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Sitiveni (Steve) Mafi, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ryan Lourens, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Albert Nikoro

Date: Saturday, April 2
Venue: Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin
Kick-off: 19:35 local (06:35 GMT)
Referee: Brendon Pickerill
Assistant Referees: Nick Briant, Paul Williams
TMO: Chris Wratt