Mitchell makes mass changes to Force - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Mitchell makes mass changes to Force

18/02/2009 03:31:52 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach John Mitchell has made seven changes to the side which began its Super 14 campaign with a disappointing loss to the Blues last Friday.

Five of the changes are to the starting side as the Force seek to get their season on track following the 25-19 loss to the Auckland-based side at Subiaco Oval.

The Force play South African side the Cheetahs at Subiaco on Friday.

Eighteen-year-old Wallaby tourist James O'Connor has been promoted to the starting side at inside centre, where he will partner Ryan Cross if the former NRL star overcomes a badly bruised shoulder.

New signings Ben Castle and Josh Valentine will make their first Super 14 appearances for the Perth side, with prop Castle recovering from a neck injury and halfback Valentine a minor hamstring strain.

Castle, who has played 42 Super rugby games with New Zealand outfit the Chiefs, is the Force's marquee signing for 2009.

Former Wallaby Scott Staniforth, Cross' likely replacement if needed, has been named on the bench after a long-term knee injury.

"The boys were very disappointed in their performance last Friday and are very much looking forward to the opportunity to turn things around this weekend," Mitchell said.

"There were some positives from the performance but we certainly need better finishing and need to maintain our physicality throughout the contest."

The Force have won all three clashes with the Bloemfontein-based Cheetahs since both sides entered the competition in 2006.

Western Force: Cameron Shepherd, Nick Cummins, Ryan Cross, James O'Connor, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Tamaiti Horua, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Pat O'Connor, Ben Castle, Tai McIsaac, Gareth Hardy. Res: Luke Holmes, Kieren Longbottom, Tom Hockings, Matt Hodgson, Chris O'Young, Josh Tatupu, Scott Staniforth.

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