Van Wyk gets first Force start

Date published: February 19 2015

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Loosehead prop Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance in the starting XV when the Western Force takes on the Reds at Brisbane’s Suncorp Stadium on Saturday.

Van Wyk, who scored the Force’s final try in last weekend’s 25-13 win over the NSW Waratahs, has played three matches off the bench for the Western Australian club, and will pack down alongside Wallabies Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.

The 24-year-old front-rower replaces Pek Cowan, who will be monitored regarding his pending return after scans cleared him of any serious injury having been carried from the field on Sunday.

The other change to the starting XV sees Zack Holmes promoted to full-back in the absence of Dane Haylett-Petty, who has been ruled out with a foot injury.

The reserves list sees two new additions, with prop Chris Heiberg and winger Mitchell Scott in line to make their Super Rugby debuts.

Heiberg was previously a member of the Stormers’ match day squad during the 2013 season prior to joining the Western Force, while Scott is in line for his first opportunity at this level after joining the Western Australian squad from ITM Cup runners-up, the Tasman Makos, at the end of the 2014 season.

Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his side is ready for another physical encounter against the Reds this weekend.

“Our goal is to maintain the same intensity and attitude while we keep working on certain aspects of our game,” he said. “To that end, we've worked hard in preparation knowing the challenge posed by a determined Reds team.”

Foley says the new selections are a reflection of the depth within the Western Force squad.

“Francois and Zack have both worked hard on different aspects of their game over the last 12 months and their contributions against the Waratahs should provide them with confidence in their ability to put in a good performance on Saturday night,” he said.

“Similarly, Chris and Mitch have challenged through pre-season to put themselves in line for selection, and Saturday represents an exciting opportunity for them.”

Force: 15 Zack Holmes, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Kyle Godwin, 12 Junior Rasolea, 11 Marcel Brache, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Chris Alcock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Adam Coleman, 4 Sam Wykes (c), 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Francois van Wyk
Replacements: 16 Heath Tessmann, 17 Chris Heiberg, 18 Oliver Hoskins, 19 Steve Mafi, 20 Brynard Stander, 21 Ian Prior, 22 Luke Burton, 23 Mitchell Scott

Date: Saturday, February 21
Venue: Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane
Kick-off: 18:40 local (08:40 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant Referees: Shane McDermott (New Zealand), Paul Williams (New Zealand)
TMO: Glen Newman (New Zealand)

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