Friday night’s battle between the Western Force and Malaysia Valke will see two well drilled, entertaining and in-form sides go head to head at HBF Park in the final Global Rapid Rugby Showcase match of 2019.
The Force are yet to lose in nine showcase games, while their opponents, made up of first team players from South African side the Falcons, are also unbeaten in their 2019 Currie Cup campaign.
Both sides will run extended squads, the Force naming 26 players, including a number of local West Australians, as well as trialling Tongan excitement machine Halaufa Lavaka. A former rugby league player with the Manly Sea Eagles, Lavaka recently completed a two-year Mormon mission and is focussed on reigniting his professional career.
The Valke side has a strong South African flavour but also includes two Malaysian players as part of the first steps in a proactive partnership between the Falcons and Malaysia Rugby Union to develop and grow the game.
With a significant South African presence, a typically forward dominated style could have been expected, however Head Coach JP Immelman said his side preferred an up-tempo game and were looking forward to playing under the Rapid Rugby laws that encourage more ball in play.
“Over the past five years we have been one of the few South African teams that has been trying to really play a more open and expanded type of running rugby game and I think that suits Rapid Rugby,” Immelman said.
“We like to run and play from our 22 so hopefully a Power Try or two might come.
“The incentive to keep the ball alive, and to really run and play with the ball, get the forwards making passes and moving makes it an enjoyable game to watch. That kind of injection into the game of rugby is what the fans want.
“I think the way that Rapid Rugby has approached it is very positive,” Immelman added.
The battle of backrow will be one to watch as Valke’s line breaking loose trio match up against WA young guns Tevin Ferris and Carlo Tizzano, as well as the Force’s own South African standout, Brynard Stander
Former All Black Jeremy Thrush, who represented New Zealand 12 times, will captain the Force just 24 hours before New Zealand and Australia go to battle in the first Bledisloe Cup to be played in Perth.
The Force will also be boosted with the return of veteran scrumhalf Ian Prior who has recovered from a pectoral injury that has kept sidelined him for 12 weeks.
Friday, 9 August 2019
Gates open 4:30pm | On-field entertainment 6:15pm | Kick-off 6.30pm
Tickets $10 – from Ticketmaster or at the gate
STARTING XV: 1.Cameron ORR, 2. Feleti KAITU’U, 3. Tom SHEMINANT, 4. Jeremy THRUSH (C), 5. Fergus LEE-WARNER, 6. Tevin FERRIS, 7.Carlo TIZZANO, 8. Brynard STANDER, 9. Issak FINES, 10. Andrew DEEGAN, 11. Rod DAVIES, 12. Rodney IONA, 13. Nick JOOSTE, 14. Jonah PLACID, 15. Jack MCGREGOR.
RESERVES: 16. Heath TESSMANN, 17. Harrison LLOYD, 18. Chris HEIBERG, 19. Ben GRANT, 20. Jackson PUGH, 21. Ian PRIOR, 22. Chris MILLER, 23. Leon FEKE, 24. Haluafa LAVAKA, 25. Ollie CALLAN, 26. Dom HARDMAN.
STARTING XV: 1.Juice GUMEDE, 2.Robey LEIBRANDT, 3.Heinrich ROELFSE, 4.Shane KIRKWOOD (C), 5.Jacques ALBERTS, 6.Thabo MABUZA, 7.Boela VENTER, 8.Friedle OLIVIER, 9.Anrich RICHTER, 10.Errol JAGGERS, 11.Leighton VAN WYK, 12.Grant JANKE, 13.Andrew VAN WYK, 14.Koert CRONJE, 15.Juan NEL
RESERVES: 16.Marco KLOPPER, 17.Luxolo KOZA, 18.Martin SITHOLE, 19.Wihan JACOBS, 20.Johan PRETORIUS, 21.Lundi RALARALA, 22.Rodney DAMONS, 23.Samuel MERAN, 24.Badrul Bin MUKTEE, 25.Franzwa SCHUTTE