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Hodgson returns to lead Force

30th March 2013 06:49

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Matt Hodgson Western Force SR 2012

Matt Hodgson: Back for Force

Captain Matt Hodgson will lead the Western Force in one of four changes to the starting XV to play the Waratahs on Sunday in Sydney.

Hodgson returns to the starting line-up alongside flanker Ben McCalman, with the Wallaby pair promoted to the run-on side after coming off the bench against the Cheetahs last weekend.

In the other change to starting pack, Heath Tessmann replaces hooker Nathan Charles, after Charles was ruled out for the remainder of the 2013 season through injury. Charles underwent a knee reconstruction on Thursday after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament against the Cheetahs.

The Western Force backline has also received a reshuffle with Junior Rasolea set to make his Super Rugby starting debut after three appearances from the bench in the opening rounds of the competition.

Rasolea's inclusion on the left wing sees Alfie Mafi shift to full-back in place of Will Tupou. Mafi, who sits equal atop of the competition's leading try-scorers, played 10 matches in the number 15 jersey for the Western Australians in 2012.

The Force bench has undergone several changes with former Brumbies and Waratahs utility Sam Norton-Knight and ex-Hurricanes scrum-half Chris Eaton set to make their Super Rugby debuts for the Force.

Norton-Knight makes his first Super Rugby appearance since 2009 and his first since leaving the 'Tahs where he played 49 of his 58 Super Rugby matches.

Eaton, who was recruited as injury cover for Brett Sheehan, previously played 27 Super Rugby matches across two seasons for the Hurricanes in 2011 and 2012.

Reserve hooker Ben Whittaker is also in line to earn his first cap of 2013 after returning from a foot injury while fly-half Sam Christie and front-rower Kieran Longbottom have been named after representing the Force in their opening two fixtures against the Rebels and Kings.

Emirates Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley says his side will have a renewed focus on being disciplined in possession.

"I've been pleased with the development we've shown over the first five matches of this competition, particularly the character we've displayed as a side," he said.

"We've moved forward in a number of areas, however, last weekend was a reminder that we need to remain focused on achieving the outcomes we want with the ball in hand."

Western Force: 15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Patrick Dellit, 13 Winston Stanley, 12 Kyle Godwin, 11 Junior Rasolea, 10 Sias Ebersohn, 9 Alby Mathewson, 8 Richard Brown, 7 Matt Hodgson (c), 6 Ben McCalman, 5 Hugh McMeniman, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pek Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Ben Whittaker, 17 Kieran Longbottom, 18 Sam Wykes, 19 Chris Alcock, 20 Chris Eaton, 21 Sam Christie, 22 Sam Norton-Knight.

Date: Sunday, March 31
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Kick off: 16.05 (01.05 WAST; 05.05 GMT)
Referee: Steve Walsh (Australia)
Assistant referees: Andrew Lees (Australia), James Leckie (Australia)
TMO: Peter Marshall (Australia)

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