Super 14
Sharpe to skipper Force against Blues
February 11, 2009

Wallabies lock Nathan Sharpe will lead the Western Force for their opening Super 14 game of the season against the Blues at Subiaco Oval on Friday.

Sharpe is partnered in the second-row by Pat O'Connor while Tamaiti Horua, David Pocock and Richard Brown slot in to the back-row. In the backs, Matt Giteau starts at fly-half with Chris O'Young his half-back partner. Coach John Mitchell was forced into late changes to his back-line with Josh Valentine and Junior Pelesasa both pulling out with hamstring injuries.

Wallabies Drew Mitchell and Cameron Shepherd start at wing and fullback respectively, with Haig Sare completing the back-three.

"We've had to make some last minute decisions today but everyone we've named is 100 per cent and ready to play," said Mitchell. "We're fortunate enough to have some versatility on the bench and some good depth this season."

Blues head coach Pat Lam has named several Super 14 debutants in his squad for the game, with Rene Ranger, Chris Lowrey, Dean Budd, Charlie Faumuina, Peter Saili and Jamie Helleur all new to this level of competition.

Tasesa Lavea has claimed the fly-half jersey ahead of Blues new-boy Jimmy Gopperth, while Lam has also been able to name All Blacks Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Anthony Boric in his tight-five.

"We just think for this particular game Tasesa's the right person to start for us," Lam said. "Obviously Jimmy's there on the bench and that will be a week to week thing, for us it's just going with the game plan we want to use and we thought Tasesa was the right person to start."

Western Force: Pek Cowan, Tai McIsaac, AJ Whalley, Pat O'Connor, Nathan Sharpe (capt), Tamaiti Horua, David Pocock, Richard Brown, Chris O'Young, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell, Josh Tatupu, Ryan Cross, Haig Sare, Cameron Shepherd

Replacements: Luke Holmes, Troy Takiari, Tom Hockings, Matt Hodgson, James O'Connor, Nick Cummins, Dane Haylett-Petty

Blues: Paul Williams, Anthony Tuitavake, Isaia Toeava, Benson Stanley, Rene Ranger, Tasesa Lavea, Taniela Moa, Chris Lowrey, Onasa'i Auva'a, Justin Collins, Anthony Boric, Kurtis Haiu, John Afoa, Keven Mealamu (capt), Tony Woodcock

Replacements: Tom McCartney, Charlie Faumuina, Dean Budd, Peter Saili, Chris Smylie, Jimmy Gopperth, Jamie Helleur


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