Force spots up for grabs during trials - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force spots up for grabs during trials

By Chris Pike 18/01/2010 08:02:23 PM Comments (0)

All spots in the Western Force team are up for grabs as the Perth-based Super 14 franchise heads to South Africa for two trial matches over the next week.

The Force head to South Africa on Tuesday for trial matches in Cape Town against the Stormers (January 23) and Sharks (January 26).

They then play a home trial on February 5 against Queensland ahead of the season-opening blockbuster against Matt Giteau's Brumbies.

It is a vastly different looking Force squad with Matt Dunning, Tim Fairbrother and Nic Henderson strengthening the forward pack, and Andre Pretorius, Mark Bartholomeusz, Sam Harris and Brett Sheehan adding experience to the backs.

Coach John Mitchell will use two completely different line-ups for the games in Cape Town and the performances will go a long way in determining who will start against the Brumbies on February 12 at ME Bank Stadium.

"Everything is up for grabs in this competition here and there's no premeditation on who will start in the competition. Clearly it's all based on performance now," Mitchell said.

"It's only fair to the players that they play in positions that we look likely to play them in going into the competition.

"Not only does it allow us to see who the best 22 are going into the competition, but it also builds our depth in each of the positions."

Flyhalf Pretorius arrives in Perth to play for a non-South African franchise for the first time in his career after 69 Super rugby caps for the Lions.

He also played for the Springboks 31 times and was a member of the 2007 World Cup-winning squad.

He will get the chance to play back in South Africa in his first game in the Force's sky blue strip - something the 31-year-old says is going to be a surreal experience.

"The weather is definitely a bit cooler there," he said. "It's about 23 in Cape Town today, but I'm looking forward to going there.

"It will be quite strange going back and playing for another country's franchise as opposed to being with a local franchise for 11 years.

"I have no idea what reception I will get. Honestly I have thought about it, but I have no idea. I'm guessing it will be quite warm, so to speak, but it will be strange and something I never thought I would experience."

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