Sharpe returns for Force match against Bulls




Emirates Western Force captain Nathan Sharpe will return to the starting line-up for the battle against the Bulls on Saturday night at Subiaco Oval.

The inspirational leader missed last week’s match against the Waratahs after suffering from heat stress and dehydration, caused by a viral infection, in the game against the Reds.

Sharpe’s replacement last week, Pat O’Connor, moves to the bench, as does versatile forward, David Pusey and hooker, Brendan Cannon, who was hit by gastroenteritis during the week.

Tai McIsaac will cover for Cannon, moving from loosehead prop to hooker while Gareth Hardy returns to the front row.

Coming into the 22 for the first time are prop, Angus Scott and outside back, Gavin DeBartolo.

The 27 year old Scott, who played Super 12 rugby with the Brumbies and the Reds, and 23 year old DeBartolo, a member of the Australian Sevens squad last year, will start on the bench.

Cameron Shepherd returns from Commonwealth Games duties and will play at fullback, with James Hilgendorf moving to flyhalf, while the injury suffered by Scott Fava at the Games last week will see Richard Brown continue at Number 8.

Emirates Western Force head coach John Mitchell said he expected the Bulls to play a very physical game, through their enormous pack.

‘A few weeks ago, the Bulls forwards out-muscled the Waratahs, so we know we’re in for a physical contest,’ he said.

Mitchell welcomed the return of Sharpe, who would be needed to help counter the lineout skills of Bulls captain Victor Matfield, one of the best jumpers in the game.

He said the inclusion of Scott would provide some front-row experience on the bench and he described DeBartolo as a very natural footballer with skills that can’t be taught.

‘Again, we’re giving opportunity to a young man like Gavin who probably wouldn’t have had the chance at this level but for the advent of a fourth Australian team,’ Mitchell said.

‘It also allows us to test and develop our depth, particularly in the backs where the injury gods have not been kind to us.’

‘Because of injuries and the Commonwealth Games, it’s the first time we’ve had a bench with some depth.’

The squad is:
1. Gareth Hardy
2.Tai McIsaac
3. David Fitter
4. John Welborn
5. Nathan Sharpe
6. Luke Doherty
7. Matt Hodgson
8. Richard Brown
9. Matt Henjak
10. James Hilgendorf
11. Digby Ioane
12. Scott Staniforth
13. Josh Graham
14. Haig Sare
15. Cameron Shepherd

16. Brendan Cannon (Luke Holmes) 17. Angus Scott 18. Pat O’Connor 19. David Pusey 20. Chris O’Young 21. Scott Daruda (Brock James) 22. Gavin DeBartolo

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