FORCE HUNT MINOR PREMIERSHIP
The Western Force will look to secure the 2019 NRC minor premiership on Saturday but has been forced to make three changes to the starting XV.
Head coach Tim Sampson knows the importance of a strong finish to the season after a dominant performance has the Force on top with five wins from the six rounds.
“Leading into a semi-final it is always important to continue winning, we took pretty big strides forward last weekend after our defeat the previous weekend to the NSW Country Eagles,” Sampson said.
“It would be a good reward to come away with the minor premiership, but we don’t sit on our heals and pat ourselves on the back, we know what lies ahead and the reality of finishing the job.”
Captain Ian Prior, Number 8 Brynard Stander and utility back Nick Jooste are all unavailable this weekend due to injury. Prior is recovering well after surgery on a broken wrist, while scans suggest Stander (knee) and Jooste (shoulder) will both make a return in the finals.
West Australian local and 2018 Matt Hodgson Rising Star medallist, Tevin Ferris, will start in the Number 8 position. Wests Scarborough’s Chris Tuatara-Morrison will run-on wearing the 12 jersey with the in-form Issak Fines starting as scrum-half.
Coming off the back of winning the NRCII Championship with Perth Gold, Aisake Meo has been called up to the Force bench for a potential debut, with Sampson highlighting the depth available in the squad.
“It’s a great reward for these players who have had very good club seasons with their respective clubs, but also recently with the Perth Gold side in Adelaide where they played exceptionally well,” Sampson said.
“They have been part of our wider team for a while now and they are very talented, so hopefully they get some good minutes and I am pretty excited to see them out there.”
The reserves have been further bolstered with the addition of UWA scrum-half Rory O’Sullivan and Palmyra’s Chris Miller on the wing. Youngster Ben Grant re-joins the 23 for Johan Bardoul who will miss the remainder of the NRC season due to a serious hamstring injury.
Andrew Deegan will lead the team as captain.
The match will be broadcast live on Fox Sports from 9am AWST and streamed on KAYO and rugby.com.au.