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Two key inclusions for Force as they look to snap winless start to season

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images)

Looking to snap their losing run with a win at home on Saturday evening, the Western Force have been boosted by the return of Sam Spink and Nic White from injury spells.

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Nic White is back in the mix after missing the Force’s clash with Moana Pasifika with a swollen knee. The Wallaby will link up with Ben Donaldson in the halves.

Reigning Nathan Sharpe medallist Spink has also recovered from a calf injury to start at outside centre alongside playmaker Hamish Stewart in the midfield.

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Sprink’s return has led to a big of a backline reshuffle with Bayley Kuenzle shifting to the right wing and Harry Potter moving to fullback.

Head-to-Head

Last 5 Meetings

Wins
1
Draws
0
Wins
4
Average Points scored
21
44
First try wins
80%
Home team wins
60%

Max Burrey and Issak Fines-Leleiwasa have both been moved back to the bench while Super Rugby-winning Crusader Ben Funnell has been called into the matchday squad.

The Western Force have had a tough season to date. After opening their season with a 30-point defeat at home to the Hurricanes, the men from the west couldn’t bounce back against Australian opposition.

Losses to the Force and Brumbies, and then that defeat to Moana Pasifika, have seen the Force anchored to the bottom of the Super Rugby Pacific standings.

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“They’re a group of hard-working young athletes over there with a search for some identity,” former Wallaby Justin Harrison explained on Stan Sports’ Rugby Heaven this week.

“Simon Cron came in and talked immediately about the environment and high-performance environment, and having been over there a few times, you look at that training setup and what they’re doing in Western Australia for rugby, it’s absolutely valid what they’re trying to do.

“This last piece now is them coming through that glass ceiling that they have about winning Super Rugby consistently with an identity.

“They’re tough, they’re working hard, but we want them to get a result – we’re desperate for them to get a result.”

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But they’ll be up against it in round five, with the Force taking on the high-flying Queensland Reds.

Western Force team to take on Queensland Reds

  1. Ryan Coxon
  2. Tom Horton
  3. Santiago Medrano
  4. Thomas Franklin
  5. Jeremy Williams (c)
  6. Tim Anstee
  7. Carlo Tizzano
  8. Will Harris
  9. Nic White
  10. Ben Donaldson
  11. Chase Tiatia
  12. Hamish Stewart
  13. Sam Spink
  14. Bayley Kuenzle
  15. Harry Potter

Reserves

  1. Ben Funnell
  2. Josh Bartlett
  3. Tiaan Tauakipulu
  4. Lopeti Faifua
  5. Reed Prinsep
  6. Issak Fines-Leleiwasa
  7. Max Burey
  8. George Poolman
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J
Jon 4 hours ago
British & Irish Lions free agent open to Super Rugby switch

There are a couple of teams who could use a stop gap experienced head. Blues - I’m not sure the Blues have signed a replacement for Caleb Tangitau (if he hasn’t been let go to make room for Barrett) yet, or whether Reiko is going on sabbatical and/or will remain in the squad. With exciting young French player Xavi Taele looking destined for higher honors in black, talented breakthrough rookie Cory Evan’s, and a couple of utilities, in AJ Lam and Bryce Heem(even Clarke?), all trying to learn the midfield trade, Williams could be a great aid. The Blues signed key English center Joe Marchant before he was raised to that level, and were possibly in the hunt to bring back the dependable Tele’a from the Highlanders. Possible the main squeeze which would put to bed any signing here would be the battle at 10 with Beauden’s return, and the forcing of Plummer back into the midfield. Hurricanes - Jordie Barrett is off to Leinster for a sabbatical next year but the more likely signing would be Billy’s brother back in the team. The Hurricanes are light on the outside with the loss of Salesi Rayasi to the Top 14 and if no quality is found to back up Kini Naholo, the midfield of Sullivan or Proctors could find themselves on the wing and space for a leader to show the Hurricanes three All Black midfield hopefuls (Higgins, Proctor, Umaga-Jensen) how its done. Highlanders - Rotation is high as usual at the Highlanders and versatility remains a strength with a lot of the squad. With compatriot Rhys Patchell signing a move to the JRLO, the passing of outside back Connor Garden-Bachop, and confirmed departure of Argentine wing Martin Bogado, the versatility of many of the young backups in the squad could see a veteran 12 like Williams being a strong partner for the robust Tele’a. With hope that the other Umaga-Jensen brother can force him out of the starting lineup, and shifting the sides general Sam Gilbert back into 10, the off-contract midfielder might seen as the perfect option for a squad still looking to fill one back spot.

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