Super 14
Bartholomeusz to step in for Pretorius
February 8, 2010
Ulster's Mark Bartholomeusz, Gloucester v Ulster, Heineken Cup, Kingsholm, January 20, 2008
Mark Bartholomeusz is leading the race to wear No.10 for the Western Force © Getty Images

Mark Bartholomeusz could be the surprise answer to the Western Force's fly-half problem following a season-ending injury to marquee Springbok signing Andre Pretorius.

The one-time Wallaby returned to Australia with the Force in 2009 after stints with Saracens, Ulster and Petrarca Padova and is gearing up to face his former side, the Brumbies, as their playmaker on Friday. Pretorius' training injury has thrown the Perth franchise into disarray and they now face a difficult decision on how to best replace the former Lions pivot, who was signed as Matt Giteau's successor.

"There is some work to do to determine if we go elsewhere and try and find another player," Force general manager Mitch Hardy told RugbyWA. "At this point in time there is no one in Australia as everyone is committed to Australian franchises. The Japanese season is finishing up in the next few weeks and the Heineken Cup is coming to a close so there may be an opportunity to bring in another player should we decide to do so.

"Mark Bartholomeusz has prepared with the team all the way through the pre-season and trial period in that position and played very well on Friday night. He is our first and foremost choice at 10 now. You'd like to start the season with all the players fit and ready to go and you certainly don't bank on a season ending injury like Andre's happening a week before the start of the season."

Bartholomeusz won the Super 12 title during a successful spell with the Brumbies and could line up opposite Giteau on Friday if the new Brumbies recruit recovers from a thigh tear.

"I really enjoy playing No. 10," he said. "It's a position I've played at times during my career and it's definitely somewhere I enjoy playing. It was good to get some game time there against the Reds and obviously it's disappointing for Andre and the squad, but with that it opens an opportunity for myself and the other No. 10s."


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