Los Pumas flanker Tomas Lezana has been named to start for the Western Force in their pre-season clash against the Brumbies at Viking Park in Canberra on Tuesday.
Lezana is a new arrival at the Force and is one of four Argentine recruits made by the Perth-based side ahead of the 2021 Super Rugby AU season.
The South American quartet – made up of Lezana, halfback Tomas Cubelli, first-five Domingo Miotti and prop Santiago Medrano – are part of a strong foreign contingent at the Force, of which includes Ireland legend Rob Kearney, All Blacks duo Richard Kahui and Jeremy Thrush, and USA international Marcel Brache.
However, Lezana is the only one of those players who has been named in the Force’s starting lineup to take on the Brumbies at 6pm local time.
Given this is the Force’s only pre-season clash, his selection could be indicative that he is primed for a starting role when the Western Australians open their season against the Brumbies at HBF Park next Saturday.
Joining Lezana in the starting forward pack are a raft of players who have already established themselves within the Force set-up, including fellow loose forwards Kane Koteka and Brynard Stander.
Props Angus Wagner and Kieran Longbottom make up the front row along with hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, while Fergus Lee-Warner and Australian sevens recruit Tim Anstee will pair up together in the second row.
In the backline, captain Ian Prior will partner veteran playmaker Jono Lance in the halves, and Wallabies duo Kyle Godwin and Tevita Kuridrani, a new signing from the Brumbies, will start in the midfield.
Wings Brad Lacey and Byron Ralston link up with fullback Jack McGregor to form a familiar outside back trio.
Head coach Tim Sampson has named 21 further players on an extended bench, of which Cubelli, Miotti, Medrano, Kearney, Kahui and Brache all feature on.
Other notable names on the bench include Wallabies props Tom Robertson and Greg Holmes, former Brumbies wing Toni Pulu, journeyman first-five Jake McIntyre – who has returned to Australia from France – and Manu Samoa midfielder Henry Taefu.
Sampson said he was excited for his side’s first pre-season hit out of the year, which consists of 30-minutes thirds, and is eager to see how his new players perform.
“It’s great to be here in Canberra and have the opportunity to play a game, it’s fantastic,” he said.
“There’s a lot of new players, including international and Australian players returning from overseas, so it’s key for them to build cohesion and gain an understanding of how everyone plays and develop those relationships.”
Western Force team for trial match vs Brumbies:
1. Angus Wagner, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Kieran Longbottom, 4. Fergus Lee-Warner, 5. Tim Anstee, 6. Tomás Lezana, 7. Kane Koteka, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Jono Lance, 11. Brad Lacey, 12. Kyle Godwin, 13. Tevita Kuridrani, 14. Byron Ralston, 15. Jack McGregor.
Jack Winchester, Scott Tolmie, Chris Heiberg, Santiago Medrano, Tom Robertson, Greg Holmes, Sam Offer, Jackson Pugh, Manu Kololo, Ollie Callan, Tomás Cubelli, Michael McDonald, Jake McIntyre, Domingo Miotti, Henry Taefu, Jake Strachan, Grason Makara, Toni Pulu, Marcel Brache, Rob Kearney, Richard Kahui.
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