Mafi starts for Force

Date published: April 6 2016

Western Force have made two changes to their squad that will tackle the in-form Crusaders in Super Rugby at nib Stadium in Perth on Friday.

In the only change to the starting XV Steve Mafi returns to the side for the first time since Round Two, with Ross Haylett-Petty given the week off after suffering a heavy knock to the head in the loss to the Highlanders last week.

Francois van Wyk will make his first appearance of the season after being named on the bench for Friday. The loosehead prop is fully fit and ready to go after recovering from surgery on a dislocated wrist.

Despite being stretchered off against the Highlanders last week Angus Cottrell has made a full recovery and will start at blindside flanker in what will be his 50th appearance for the Western Force.

Head coach Michael Foley said the side is looking forward to getting back in front of the ‘Sea of Blue’ and building upon their performance from last week.

"It's always good to come home and play in front of our supporters after time away," he said.

"We set about changing the way we play this season by being more dynamic with ball in hand and while we haven’t got the wins we’d all like, we will persevere.

"Our fans are incredibly passionate and the team is looking forward to running out at the Force Field and giving it their all for the full 80 minutes on Friday."

The front-row remains unchanged, Pek Cowan starts at loosehead linking up with Heath Tessmann while Tetera Faulkner again gets the nod at tighthead.

Adam Coleman partners with Steve Mafi in the second-row and both men will look to dominate at the set piece against the men from Christchurch.

Joining Angus Cottrell in the back-row for his 50th appearance in the Western Force colours will be the familiar faces of skipper Matt Hodgson at openside and Ben McCalman who rounds out the forward pack at number eight.

In the halves Alby Mathewson will look to spark the backline at scrum-half while Peter Grant will once again be the general in attack and defence after a strong outing in Dunedin.

Junior Rasolea and Ben Tapuai will continue to build their solid chemistry in the midfield with the powerful ball runners named at inside and outside centre respectively.

Dane Haylett-Petty will command the back three in the number fifteen jersey and look to continue his hot form after bagging his first try of the season last week while the electrifying duo of Luke Morahan and Semisi Masirewa man the wings.

Force: 15 Dane Haylett-Petty, 14 Luke Morahan, 13 Ben Tapuai, 12 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 Steve Mafi, 3 Tetera Faulkner, 2 Heath Tessmann, 1 Pekahou Cowan.
Replacements: 16 Nathan Charles, 17 Francois van Wyk, 18 Jermaine Ainsley, 19 Rory Walton, 20 Richard Hardwick, 21 Ryan Louwrens, 22 Ian Prior, 23 Albert Nikoro

Date: Friday, April 8
Venue: nib Stadium, Perth
Kick-off: 19:00 local (11:00 GMT)
Referee: Ben O'Keeffe
Assistant Referees: Mike Fraser, Graham Cooper
TMO: Ian Smith