Vodacom Super Rugby
O'Connor at centre for Force
Canberra - James O'Connor will line-up at inside centre in Sunday's Vodacom Super Rugby clash against the Brumbies in Canberra.
Coach Richard Graham has made a number of positional changes, most notably in his backline, including handing Pat Dellit his first Super Rugby start in place of Cameron Shepherd who was ruled out after taking a heavy fall in the closing minutes against the Waratahs last weekend.
"In making team selections we look at how we can best line-up against our opposition," said Graham.
"I've wanted to see what impact James could have at 12 and the structure we've got against the Brumbies has allowed that to happen.
"I wanted to explore something different but it hasn't come about because of a perceived lack of ball James got last week when he played full-back.
"The stats show that he touched the ball only eight times less than Willie did at fly-half so that wasn't a significant factor in the move."
Other changes to the backs will see Rory Sidey move to outside centre while Nick Cummins relocates to the wing.
Up front emerging prop Kieran Longbottom will make his first Super Rugby start after some impressive displays from the bench. Longbottom has played 14 matches for the club will take over the number one jersey from Pek Cowan who has shouldered a significant workload in 2011.
"Kieran has been performing well and deserves a chance to start," said Graham.
"It's great to see him make the most of his opportunities so far this season and I'm confident he'll be able to have a positive impact in the front row against some quality opposition."
Graham is expecting a tough challenge against a Brumbies side that received a confidence boost after snapping a five-match barren run with a win over the Hurricanes last weekend.
"They've had predominantly very close fought matches throughout the season while their two wins have come at home. It definitely tells us they are fighting hard in every match and enjoy playing in front of their supporters," Graham said.
"We'll need to work hard for each other and display a real intensity in our defensive line against a side that passes the ball more than any other in Super Rugby. I'll be looking for our attack to apply pressure by looking after possession." TeamsBrumbies:
15 Matt Toomu, 14 Pat McCabe, 13 Andrew Smith, 12
Christian Lealiifano, 11 Francis Fainifo, 10 Matt Giteau (captain), 9
Josh Valentine, 8 Ita Vaea, 7 Michael Hooper, 6 Peter Kimlin, 5 Mark
Chisholm, 4 Ben Hand, 3 Dan Palmer, 2 Anthony Hegarty, 1 Ben Alexander
16 Elvis Levi, 17 Dan Palmer, 18 Colby Faingaa, 19 Julian Salvi, 20
Patrick Phibbs, 21 Tyrone Smith, 22 Adam Ashley-CooperWestern Force:
Pat Dellit, 14 Nick Cummins, 13 Rory Sidey, 12 James O'Connor, 11 David
Smith, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 Jono
Jenkins, 6 Richard Brown, 5 Nathan Sharpe (captain), 4 Sam Wykes, 3 Tim
Fairbrother, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Kieran Longbottom
16 Nathan Charles, 17 Pek Cowan, 18 Tom Hockings, 19 Tevita Metuisela,
20 James Stannard, 21 Gene Fairbanks, 22 Alfie Mafi.