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The Emirates Western Force has made four changes to its starting XV to tackle the Bulls in Pretoria on Saturday night.
Lock Toby Lynn, prop Salesi Ma’afu and back-rower Richard Brown all return to the run-on side while former Baby Bok flyhalf Sias Ebersohn will make his first start in the ‘10’ jersey for the Western Australians.
Lynn’s recall to the starting pack coincides with his 50th career Super Rugby match. The 28-year-old, who made his Super Rugby debut for the Chiefs in 2007, played 32 matches for the Waikato side before joining the Emirates Western Force ahead of the 2012 season.
Lynn is joined in the tight five by Wallabies tighthead Salesi Ma’afu, who is set to make his first appearance for the Force in 2013, replacing Tetera Faulkner, who reverts to the bench.
Veteran back-rower Richard Brown also forces his way into the starting side after two powerful performances from the bench, including a try-scoring effort against the Rebels in Melbourne. Brown joins captain Matt Hodgson in the back row and remain the club’s two survivors from the Force’s 30-27 win in Pretoria in 2007.
Bloemfontein-born Ebersohn will return to the Highveld for the first time since joining the Force after three Super Rugby seasons representing the Free State-based Cheetahs. The 24-year-old, who made his maiden appearance for the Force as a replacement against the Rebels in Week One, replaces playmaker Sam Christie in an otherwise unchanged backline.
The Force will again feature five forwards on its bench, with Faulkner, Sam Wykes and Ben McCalman joining hooker Heath Tessmann and flanker Chris Alcock on the reserves list. Former Hurricanes midfielder Jayden Hayward is in line to make his debut for his new province during the match, alongside Mick Snowden, who became the 107th and most recent debutante for the Emirates Western Force last weekend.
Emirates Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley said his side was focused on improving following their loss to the Kings last Saturday.
“We were disappointed with last week’s performance, but as a young team, the important thing is how we learn and progress” he said.
“There were numerous elements of our game that were positive, particularly the way we started the match, but we need our basics to be more consistent to build pressure and gain momentum at Super Rugby level.
“As we strive to improve our skills and the way we play, it’s important to remain composed and focused when errors occur, to ensure we continue to play as a XV and maximise opportunities we create.
“Salesi and Richard bring with them a great deal of experience and physicality and we’re all keen to mark Toby’s 50th game with a good performance. Saturday also represents a good opportunity for Sias in an environment in which he’s played in more than any other member of our team.”
2013 Super Rugby – Week Three
Bulls v Emirates Western Force
Loftus Versfeld, Pretoria
Saturday, 2 March 2013
Kick-off: 5.05pm (local)/11.05pm (AWST)
1. Pek Cowan
2. Nathan Charles
3. Salesi Ma’afu
4. Toby Lynn
5. Hugh McMeniman
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Matt Hodgson (c)
8. Richard Brown
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Sias Ebersohn^
11. Alfie Mafi
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Winston Stanley
14. Nick Cummins
15. Will Tupou
16. Heath Tessmann
17. Tetera Faulkner
18. Sam Wykes
19. Ben McCalman
20. Chris Alcock
21. Mick Snowden
22. Jayden Hayward*
* Emirates Western Force debut
^ Emirates Western Force run-on debut