Force firepower boosted
The backrow pairing of captain Matt Hodgson and current Wallaby Ben McCalman is set to be reunited for the Western Force on Saturday, after McCalman was named on the bench for the injured Chris Alcock.
McCalman was expected to miss the opening few rounds of Super Rugby after returning from a six month stint in the Japanese Top League, but after injury struck the Force last weekend, McCalman answered the SOS.
“It’s great to welcome Benny back into the fold.” Hodgson said.
“He’s had two weeks in training and a bit of hard study at night to get on the track.”
Hodgson will be keen to add some extra firepower to the Force forwards after their narrow loss to the Rebels last weekend.
“It’s obviously disappointing to have so many turnovers and many areas of the breakdown we were slacking.” He said.
“It was hard to get quick ball, we were going from slow ball to slow ball. It’s tough to win those breakdowns, so we’ve adjusted that.
“We were playing too lateral, rather than going through them and taking the easier option.
“We off-loaded under too much pressure. We need to get front-foot ball.”
In other changes to the Force line-up, Semisi Masirewa will make his Super Rugby starting debut on the wing after coming off the bench last weekend.
The flying-Fijian impressed in the preseason games and will eager to make the most of his opportunity.
“He was probably disappointed he didn’t get his hands on the ball in his debut but he’s got a full 80 minutes to have a go.” Hodgson said.
Both the Force and Reds will be looking for their first win of the season and the Force Captain knows that it will be tough run home if his team is 0-2.
“There’s a lot of pressure. It’s a short season and you need to get wins up, especially at home.” He said.
While the Reds forward pack might seem depleted on paper, missing Wallabies James Slipper, Kane Douglas and Liam Gill, their set piece was impressive against the Waratahs.
“Set piece for them has been their backbone for a while. You look at players like Greg Holmes, he’s probably one of the best in Australia at scrummaging.” Hodgson said.
The Western Force take on the Reds at 7:45pm at Suncorp Stadium, live on FOX SPORTS. You can catch the Super U20s as a curtain-raiser at 4:15pm via www.redsrugby.com.au
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