Brumbies

Force’s Ioane given until game day to prove fitness

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Exciting Emirates Western Force winger Digby Ioane will be given until game day to prove his fitness for the clash against the Chiefs at Subiaco Oval on Friday night.


The powerful runner injured his ankle early in the first half of last week’s match against the Hurricanes but played out the game.


With uncertainty as to his availability, Australian Under 19 and Under 21 representative, Tajhon Mailata, has been called into the squad.


Also returning to the 22 is centre Josh Graham, who passed a concussion test yesterday after being knocked-out in the team’s Tooheys New Super 14 debut against the Brumbies.


Graham will also see a specialist before being given the all-clear.


Former Queensland flanker Richard Brown comes into the starting 15 ahead of Matt Hodgson as part of a rotation policy, and Scott Daruda returns to the run-on side at inside centre, replacing the injured Junior Pelesasa.


The Emirates Western Force has been plagued by injury, with four backs and a forward unavailable for selection after just two rounds.


Lock Rudi Vedelago is recovering from wrist surgery and is expected to be out of action for another six weeks, while Zander Peden and Ben Ward are battling back injuries.


LachlanMacKay (knee ligaments) and Pelesasa (broken ankle) were sidelined whilst wearing the Number 12


Emirates Western Force head coach John Mitchell said it was unusual for injuries to hit one position, and he welcomed the return of Graham.


‘He’s actually come in ahead of schedule having passed the appropriate medical test but it’s been a challenge for us, not being able to put out the same back-line on consecutive weekends,’ he said.


Mitchell said this week’s opposition was the best Chiefs team he’d seen on paper in a decade, describing Mils Muliaina as the best fullback in world rugby, ably supported by Sosene Anesi and Sitiveni Sivivatu.


‘Their back-row is also formidable, all of them All Blacks,’ he said.


‘And their halfback Byron Kelleher is a strong individual. There wouldn’t be too many halfbacks as strong as Byron, so we’re in for a pretty physical contest.’


‘I’m seeking an improvement on our two previous outings.’


The squad is:


Gareth Hardy, Brendan Cannon, David Fitter, David Pusey, Nathan Sharpe, Luke Doherty, Richard Brown, Scott Fava, Matt Henjak, Brock James, Digby Ioane, Scott Daruda, Scott Staniforth, Cameron Shepherd, James Hilgendorf, Tai McIsaac, David Te Moana, John Welborn, Matt Hodgson, Chris O’Young, Haig Sare, Tajhon Mailata/Josh Graham

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