Full-squad Force to face Cheetahs - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Full-squad Force to face Cheetahs

By Justin Chadwick 14/02/2009 03:43:12 PM Comments (0)

The Western Force have received a rare dose of good news, with star centre Ryan Cross cleared of any serious shoulder damage and up to four other players set to return from injury for next Friday's Super 14 clash with the Cheetahs at Subiaco Oval.

Marquee front rower Ben Castle, scrumhalf Josh Valentine, centre Junior Pelesasa and utility back Scott Staniforth all missed the Force's 25-19 loss to the Blues on Friday night.

But coach John Mitchell said he was confident the quartet would be ready to go against the Cheetahs in a match the Force will desperately want to win before embarking on a three-game road trip.

And the Force breathed a sigh of relief on Saturday morning when scans revealed Cross had not suffered a fracture to his left shoulder, which he injured midway through the first half against the Blues.

"He has some bruising around the shoulder but we'll monitor him throughout the week and hopefully he'll be available to play the Cheetahs next Friday night," Force team doctor Mark de Cruz said.

But prop AJ Whalley could be set for a stint on the sidelines after limping off the field with a lower leg injury.

The Blues also were hit on the injury front, with captain Keven Mealamu (calf) and centre Benson Stanley (hamstring) forced off during the fast-paced encounter.

The likely addition of former Wallaby Staniforth, one of the game's best utility backs who has battled a series of knee injuries recently, would be a particularly massive boost to the Force.

"Scotty's looking real good," Mitchell said.

"He's well ahead of schedule, which is great for the group because he's very experienced and done a hell of a lot of work to get back."

The Force jumped out to a 14-3 lead against the Blues but conceded four unanswered tries, including three in the second half.

The Force also let big leads slip in trial games against the Crusaders and Reds but Mitchell was unfazed with his team's fadeouts.

"We can't change the past and we certainly can't change tonight but we can address our game going forward and bring some solutions to the area," Mitchell said.

"It's more the fact we are not spending enough time in the front 50.

"Within the loss there's some very good stuff and the competition goes on.

"We didn't back off, we just kept coming.

"We showed composure even though things weren't going for us.

"I mean the tackle contest and the free kick momentum certainly went against us tonight.

"Just the fact we were still able to possibly win the match at the end based on crumbs is pretty positive."

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