Western Force coach Tim Sampson has named an unchanged starting XV and made one change amongst the reserves for Friday’s Super Rugby AU clash with the Reds at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane.
Lock Ollie Atkins, who returned to Perth in June, has been included on the bench in place of Johan Bardoul. Australian-born Atkins joined the Force from English club Exeter where he spent the past four seasons and was part of the squad that reached four successive Premiership finals.
The two-metre tall lock made two appearances for the Force in the 2012 Super Rugby season before moving to Edinburgh. He also represented Scotland A in 2014.
Sampson has kept faith with the players who did duty during last week’s 14-23 loss against the Waratahs and will be looking for a strong performance from his team against the Reds. The Force made a strong start last week and held a comfortable 14-7 lead at half-time. Unfortunately, they faded in the final quarter and allowed the Waratahs back into the game.
The Perth club has a proud record against the Reds and will be looking to build on the many positives from last week as they look for their first Super Rugby AU victory.
The Reds will provide a stern test after kicking off their campaign with a 36-26 win over the Waratahs and playing to an 18-all draw with the Rebels last week.
Both Sampson and captain Ian Prior are “excited” to be return to Queensland for the hotly anticipated match-up.
“Suncorp is a fantastic stadium to play at,” Prior said. “It’ll be special to play in front of family and friends again; I can’t wait to get out there.”
“We have fond memories of Brisbane and Queensland rugby, so to go there and get a win over the Reds would certainly be a nice feeling, it adds a little bit of extra motivation,” Sampson noted.
The skipper is expecting a fierce encounter on Friday night.
“They’re coached by Brad Thorn who prides himself on physicality and energy. They’ve got a good group of young players that have been developing nicely, so it’ll be a challenge, but one we’re certainly looking forward to,” Prior added.
1. Angus Wagner,2. Feleti Kaitu’u,3. Kieran Longbottom,4. Jeremy Thrush,5. Fergus Lee Warner,6. Henry Stowers,7. Tevin Ferris,8. Brynard Stander,9. Ian Prior,10. Jono Lance,11. Brad Lacey,12. Nick Jooste,13. Marcel Brache,14. Byron Ralston,15. Jack McGregor
Replacements:16. Andrew Ready,17. Chris Heiberg,18. Greg Holmes,19. Ollie Atkins,20. Ollie Callan,21. Jacob Abel,22. Henry Taefu,23. Kyle Godwin