The Western Force will launch its 2019 season Friday night in the Rapid Rugby Showcase opener against a star studded World XV lineup.
The World XV team includes familiar names like Nick ‘Honey Badger’ Cummins and former Wallaby and Force player Digby Ioane.
Force captain Ian Prior says he’s looking forward to being greeted by a sea of blue.
“Western Australian rugby fans are really proud, so we’re pretty excited to be able to play in front of them again,” he said.
Mr Prior added that he’s also keen to play against former teammate Nick Cummins, who he believes will benefit from the shortened format that Rapid Rugby Showcase offers.
“We’re really excited to be able to play him (Cummins), as he was a stalwart of the club.
“Hopefully his legs and lungs last him a bit longer, the shorter game will hopefully help him there,” he said.
Force head coach Tim Sampson lauded his squad for their resilience through what has been a testing pre-season due to the postponement of the Asia-Pacific Rugby Tournament.
“I’ve commended the squad along the way, their positive attitude towards it all and their application out on the training field has been really, really good.”
For the Force, Andrew Ready and Nick Jooste will make their debuts while last year’s Nathan Sharpe medallist Brynard Stander will return to his position at the back of the scrum.
Western Force: 1. Cameron Orr, 2. Feleti Kaitu’u, 3. Keiran Longbottom, 4. Johan Bardoul, 5. Jeremy Thrush, 6. Henry Stowers, 7. Chris Alcock, 8. Brynard Stander, 9. Ian Prior, 10. Andrew Deegan, 11. Clay Uyen, 12. Henry Taefu, 13. Marcel Brache, 14. Brad Lacey, 15. Jack McGregor, 16. Andrew Ready, 17. Harrison Lloyd, 18. Chris Heiberg, 19. Leon Power, 20. Tevin Ferris 21. Issak Fines 22. AJ Alatimu 23. Nick Jooste
World XV squad: Gio Aplon (South Africa), Yoshikazu Fujita (Japan), Nick Cummins
(Australia), Digby Ioane (Australia), Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Fiji), Dylan Riley (Australia), Inga Finau (New Zealand), Kosei Ono (Japan), Leon Fukofuka (Tonga), Andy Ellis (New Zealand, captain), Leonardo Senatore (Argentina), Hugh Renton (New Zealand), Michael Curry (New Zealand), Shota Fukui (Japan), Michael Oakman-Hunt (Australia), Jack Cornelsen (Australia), Hamish Dalzell (New Zealand), Tom Moloney (Australia), Chris King (New Zealand), Shohei Hirano (Japan), Wyatt Crockett (New Zealand), Greg Pleasants-Tate (New Zealand), Corey Flynn (New Zealand)