Force name five debutants for S14 opener - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force name five debutants for S14 opener

By Justin Chadwick 10/02/2010 09:15:28 PM Comments (0)

Western Force coach John Mitchell believes David Pocock will become the franchise's next Super 14 captain after appointing the Wallabies flanker as Nathan Sharpe's deputy.

Pocock, who established himself as the country's premier No.7 last year ahead of George Smith, becomes the Force's youngest ever vice-captain at just 21 years of age.

Mitchell said the time was right for Pocock to take on the role, which was vacated by Matt Giteau at the end of last season.

"We just think it's now time to give David some added responsibility," Mitchell said at the Force's season launch on Wednesday.

"Clearly we see him as a captain in the future of the club.

"I think it's deserving in the way he's played and where he wants to go to next.

"We all know he's a very balanced person in his life and I think the added responsibility of the leadership will grow him further as a rugby player."

Pocock is out of contract at the end of the season but the lure of captaining the Force, possibly as early as next season, might be enough of an enticement for him to re-sign.

Meanwhile, at least five players will make their Western Force debuts in Friday night's clash with the Brumbies in Perth.

One-Test Wallaby Mark Bartholomeusz will take up the five-eighth role following the season-ending injury to Andre Pretorius, while scrumhalf Brett Sheehan, inside centre Sam Harris and props Matt Dunning and Nic Henderson will also don Force colours for the first time in Super 14 competition after being named in the starting XV.

Wallabies centre Ryan Cross has been named in the run-on side and Mitchell was confident the former NRL star had recovered from his abdominal injury.

"We thought it was important to let him get over that in trial three so he's ... looked really sharp at training," Mitchell said.

Young gun James O'Connor will play at fullback while prop Pek Cowan will start at hooker after his impressive display there in the Force's trial win over Queensland last week.

Wingers Haig Sare (Achilles tendon) and Nick Cummins (foot) couldn't be considered due to injury.

Matt Hodgson, David Pocock and Richard Brown will form a formidable back row while Sam Wykes will partner Nathan Sharpe at lock.

Star Wallabies flyhalf Matt Giteau has been named by the Brumbies but is no certainty to play due to a lingering quad complaint.

"We're ready whoever turns up," Mitchell replied when asked about Giteau's fitness.

Force: James O'Connor, Dane Haylett-Petty, Ryan Cross, Sam Harris, Cameron Shepherd, Mark Bartholomeusz, Brett Sheehan, Richard Brown, David Pocock, Matt Hodgson, Nathan Sharpe, Sam Wykes, Matt Dunning, Pek Cowan, Nic Henderson. Reserves: Ben Whittaker, Tim Fairbrother, Richard Stanford, Ben McCalman, Chris O'Young, Mitchell Inman, Josh Tatupu.

Brumbies: Adam Ashley-Cooper, Pat McCabe, Stirling Mortlock, Christian Lealiifano, Francis Fainifo, Matt Giteau/Matt Toomua, Josh Valentine, Stephen Hoiles (capt), George Smith, Rocky Elsom, Justin Harrison, Mark Chisholm, Guy Shepherdson, Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander. Res: Huia Edmonds, Salesi Maafu, Ben Hand, Mitchell Chapman, Patrick Phibbs, Tyrone Smith, Alfi Mafi, Afusipa Taumoepeau.

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