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Force make two changes for 'Sharpie's' farewell

Nathan Sharpe was the Force's first captain

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Article Published: Thursday 28 June 2012|

The Western Force have made two changes to the team that beat the Lions over a month ago for this weekend's match against the Brumbies which will be Nathan Sharpe's last in Perth.

The match will have a special feel to it as it will be the Force's chance to farewell their inaugural captain Nathan Sharpe.

Sharpe, who has played a tournament record 160 Super Rugby matches, will make his final home appearance in front of 'the Sea of Blue' on Saturday before completing his stellar provincial career in Christchurch against the Crusaders in a fortnight's time.

The veteran lock will be joined in the starting XV by fellow inaugural Western Force teammate Richard Brown, who earns his promotion into the run-on side in the absence of injured No.8 Ben McCalman.

Brown will start the match at blindside flanker, with Matt Hodgson shifting to the back of the scrum and Wallabies skipper David Pocock - who along with Sharpe played all four Tests during the inbound international series - resuming his place at openside and captain.

The other change to the Western Force side that defeated the Lions 17-11 a month ago sees scrumhalf Josh Holmes rewarded for a strong performance in last weekend's 42-0 win over the South Australian President's XV in Adelaide. Following Holmes' call-up to the run-on side, Brett Sheehan joins David Harvey as backline reserves.

The Western Force will again feature five forwards on their bench, with former Australian Under 20 representative Tetera Faulkner joining hooker Elvis Taione and Salesi Manu as front row replacement options.

Saturday's match will also serve as the final home appearance for marquee winger Napolioni Nalaga, who will return to French club, Clermont, at the completion of the 2012 Super Rugby season.

Western Force Defence & Skills Coach Phil Blake says his side will be endeavouring to make it a memorable occasion for the club's departing players.

"Saturday night is a big occasion for the club and its supporters, and particularly for Sharpie, who has sacrificed a lot for this club over the past seven years," said. "You'd like to think that the guys would be able to extract another one or two per cent out of their games and their performance for the club and for Sharpie.

"In saying that, we won't be getting carried away. At the end of the day, our priority is going out there to win a game of footy and so whatever the motivation is, we'll bring it, but we need a committed 80-minute performance before we can start dancing in the streets."

Blake says his side returns refreshed following the competition's three-week hiatus due to international Tests against Scotland and Wales.

"The effects of the three-week break are yet to be seen but everyone is in the same boat," he said.

"What it has done is reenergized us, it's given us an opportunity to work on a few things, and the match in South Australia last week will also hold us in good stead.

"We've still got a lot to play for in the last three weeks of the competition - not least of which is for our fans, who have stuck by us throughout this season. We only to get to play 16 games during the (regular) season and in light of where we're sitting, we're certainly still looking to extract every win we can until the end of the season."

Saturday will be the Western Force's final home match for 2012 before completing their Super Rugby campaign with matches against the Blues in Auckland (7 July) and Crusaders in Christchurch (14 July).

Western Force

1. Pek Cowan,2. Nathan Charles,3. Salesi Ma'afu,4. Toby Lynn,5. Nathan Sharpe,6. Richard Brown ,7. David Pocock (c),8. Matt Hodgson,9. Josh Holmes,10. Ben Seymour,11. Napolioni Nalaga,12. Rory Sidey,13. Will Tupou,14. Nick Cummins,15. Alfie Mafi

Replacements : 16. Elvis Taione,17. Tetera Faulkner,18. Salesi Manu,19. Phoenix Battye,20. Lachlan McCaffrey,21. Brett Sheehan ,22. David Harvey

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