Force welcome back Nalaga

2012-04-26 10:29

Perth - Force wing Napolioni Nalaga will put six weeks of frustration behind him when he lines up in Saturday's Super Rugby clash with the Stormers in Perth.

Nalaga hasn't played for the Force since injuring his ankle in the club's heavy loss to the Hurricanes in round three.

But after making it through 30 minutes of action for Western Australian club Palmyra last week, the Fijian winger is ready to strut his stuff against the Stormers.

The return of Nalaga is timely for the Force, who have posted just two wins from eight games and will be without fullback Cameron Shepherd (wrist) for the next six weeks.

"He is raring to go," Force skills and defence coach Phil Blake said of the Fijian international.

"We just need make the best use of his ability by getting him into the game.

"I have no doubt he can be a real force for us this weekend and for the remainder of the campaign."

In another change to the starting side, No 8 Ben McCalman has been promoted to the starting line-up, with fellow Wallaby Richard Brown relegated to the bench.

"Ben played some really nice minutes for us against the Waratahs a couple of weeks ago and we felt it was time to get him back into the run-on side," Blake said.

"It's a change-up that we felt would benefit us by having Poey (David Pocock) and Hodgo (Matt Hodgson) on the flanks and being able to call on Richard Brown to give us some real thrust at the back end of the game."

With prop Kieran Longbottom set to miss the next eight weeks after undergoing surgery to fix a bulging disc in his back, 21-year-old front-rower Salesi Manu is in line to make his Super debut off the bench.

The bye week proved to be extremely costly for the Force, who lost lock Sam Wykes to a season-ending knee injury following a training mishap.

Saturday's match will be the first under the Force's new coaching structure following the exit of Richard Graham, who will link up with the Reds next season.

Graham initially wanted to see out the season with the Force, but was told his services were no longer required once the player group voiced their displeasure over the situation.

Blake will team with his fellow assistants, plus players Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock, in a five-man coaching team.



15 Alfie Mafi, 14 Rory Sidey, 13 Nick Cummins, 12 Winston Stanley, 11 Napolioni Nalaga, 10 David Harvey, 9 Brett Sheehan, 8 Ben McCalman, 7 David Pocock (captain), 6 Matt Hodgson, 5 Nathan Sharpe, 4 Toby Lynn, 3 Salesi Ma'afu, 2 Nathan Charles, 1 Pek Cowan

Substitutes: 16 Elvis Taione, 17 Salesi Manu, 18 Phoenix Battye, 19 Richard Brown, 20 Josh Holmes, 21 Ben Seymour, 22 Samu Wara

15. Joe Pietersen, 14. Gerhard van den Heever, 13. Bryan Habana, 12. Juan de Jongh, 11. Danie Poolman, 10. Peter Grant, 9. Dewaldt Duvenage, 8. Nizaam Carr, 7. Rynhardt Elstadt, 6. Siya Kolisi, 5. Andries Bekker (captain), 4. De Kock Steenkamp, 3. Frans Malherbe, 2. Tiaan Liebenberg, 1. Steven Kitshoff
Substitutes: 16. Scarra Ntubeni, 17. Brok Harris, 18. Don Armand, 19. Deon Fourie, 20. Louis Schreuder, 21. Burton Francis, 22. JP du Plessis

Rugby Heaven