Force to keep backline quartet in Perth - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Force to keep backline quartet in Perth

Justin Chadwick And Jim Morton 30/05/2011 07:35:09 PM Comments (0)

The Western Force have decided against calling in the reinforcements for the second leg of their New Zealand tour, giving James O'Connor and company extra time to recover ahead of Saturday week's Super Rugby clash with Queensland.

O'Connor (neck/shoulder), scrumhalf Brett Sheehan (leg), five-eighth Willie Ripia (calf) and Gene Fairbanks (leg) will miss Friday night's clash with the Highlanders in Dunedin, leaving the Force to again field a threadbare backline.

Scrumhalf James Stannard is set to fill in at five-eighth again, while Mark Swanepoel will play at scrumhalf for just his third cap.

They combined brilliantly in last week's 34-28 loss to the Hurricanes, and Force coach Richard Graham said there was little to benefit from recalling any players who still had question marks over their fitness.

"I'm not bringing any of the (injured) boys over," Graham said from NZ on Monday.

"All of them are there thereabouts in terms of fitness but by the time they get over here they would only get to train with us at the captain's run.

"If you bring one or two in that would compromise the whole squad.

"Definitely they will all be fit and come back in contention for our game against the Reds on June 11.

"It's important to reward the group for their performance (against the Hurricanes), albeit we didn't get the result we were after."

The Force conceded two tries in the final 10 minutes against the Hurricanes to slump to their eighth loss of the season, a lapse that did not escape the attention of Graham.

"That's nine out of 13 that we've led at the 65th minute mark," Graham said.

"That (closing out games better) is something that we've tried to address."

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