Scrum-half Alby Mathewson will play his 100th Super Rugby fixture on Sunday, when the Western Force face the NSW Waratahs.
Scrum-half Alby Mathewson will play his 100th Super Rugby fixture on Sunday, when the Western Force face the NSW Waratahs in Sydney.
Mathewson, now in his eighth season of Super Rugby, returns for his second season with the Western Force having previously represented the Hurricanes (36 matches) and Blues (47).
The four-time All Black is set to reach his milestone playing inside Sias Ebersohn, who is also embarking on his second season with the club, and Perth-born fly-half Zack Holmes, who returns home after two seasons with the Brumbies. Scrum-half Ian Prior will also join his former Brumbies teammate in the Force line-up.
The Western Australian backline will also feature former Queensland Red Luke Morahan at full-back, forming a back three with Wallaby winger Nick Cummins and either former Western Province outside back Marcel Brache or Patrick Dellit.
Kyle Godwin and Junior Rasolea will renew their centre pairing after having teamed up in the Force midfield on two occasions in 2013.
In the Force forward pack, Wallabies forward Hugh McMeniman is set to make his return from a shoulder injury that sidelined him for the second half of 2013.
McMeniman, who played 40 minutes against Samoa A in last weekend's Force A trial match, will form a second row combination with Sam Wykes and former Bulls and Emerging Springbok lock Wilhelm Steenkamp, who will pack down for his first Super Rugby match with the Force.
Captain Matt Hodgson will lead his side on for his 98th match for the club and is set to be joined in the back row by flankers Chris Alcock and Angus Cottrell. Wallaby back-rower Ben McCalman and new recruit Brynard Stander will look to continue on from their impressive pre-season form from the back of the Western Force scrum.
Nathan Charles will mark his tournament return from a knee injury suffered against the Cheetahs in Week Six of the 2013 competition.
The 25-year-old rake will cover the hooking role with Heath Tessmann, and pack down alongside powerful prop pairing of Pek Cowan and Tetera Faulkner at loosehead, while local Australian Under 20 prop Ollie Hoskins is set to make his Super Rugby debut at tighthead, along with fellow WA product, Kieran Longbottom.
Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his team is looking forward to the challenge presented by the season ahead.
“We're very excited to begin our Super Rugby campaign” said Foley.
“While it was pleasing to keep our line in tact through both trial matches, as well as scoring tries from different sources of possession, it is important we step up again this week against the Waratahs.
“One hundred matches is a fantastic milestone for Alby, who has been an outstanding competitor in this tournament over the past eight years and is growing as a leader within our squad.
“Knowing the respect that Alby commands within the squad, I'm sure the boys will be determined to ensure it's a memorable occasion for him and the team.”
Force: 15 Luke Morahan, 14 Marcel Brache/Patrick Dellit, 13 Junior Rasolea, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Nick Cummins, 10 Sias Ebersohn/Zack Holmes, 9 Alby Mathewson/Ian Prior, 8 Ben McCalman/Brynard Stander, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Chris Alcock/Angus Cottrell, 5 Hugh McMeniman/Wilhelm Steenkamp, 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Ollie Hoskins/Kieran Longbottom, 2 Nathan Charles/Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan/Tetera
Date: Sunday, February 23
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick-off: 16:05 (local, 05:05 GMT)
Referee: Rohan Hoffmann (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Matt O'Brien (Australia), Ed Martin (Australia)
TMO: George Ayoub (Australia)