New signings included as Force confirm team list for opening trial game

Fri, Feb 2, 2024, 2:00 AM
by Ben Somerford

Three new signings will start for the Western Force in the Club’s opening pre-season trial game against the Queensland Reds at Ballymore Stadium from 1pm WST Saturday.

The Force made the trip from Perth to Brisbane on Thursday with a 33-man travelling party for Saturday’s game that will be played as three 30-minute thirds.

New additions Tom Franklin and Will Harris will start in the forward pack, while Wallabies recruit Ben Donaldson is named at fly-half. New signings Atu Moli and Henry O’Donnell are also named on the bench for their first opportunities in the Force blue.

Off-season signing Nic White hasn’t traveled due to a minor shoulder injury. In his absence, Wallabies’ World Cup bolter Issak Fines-Leleiwasa will start at scrum-half.

Joondalup Brothers front rower Marley Pearce will start at loosehead prop after a breakthrough campaign last year as he aims for a regular starting berth this year, while Wanneroo’s Ollie Callan makes his return off the bench after his 2023 was cut short due to injury.

Force head coach Simon Cron said: “It’s great to finally play against a team who’s not us. As coaches, we get to see some guys, give them some serious minutes and see where they fit in the food chain.

“Some key guys will get 45-60 minutes, then a few guys will share across the 30-30-30 split. It’s a real opportunity for the players to continue to build connections and show what they can do when we play as a team."

Four train and trial players have been included for the trip; Titi Nofogatotoa, Hamish Moore, talented UWA prop Regi Churchward and ex-Waratahs winger Taqele Naiyaravoro, along with Fortescue Academy members Tiaan Tauakipulu, Jhy Legg and Ronan Leahy.

Siosifa Amone (knee), Harry Hoopert (knee), Felix Kalapu (hamstring), Campbell Parata (hamstring), Izack Rodda (foot), Papillon Sevele (knee), Carlo Tizzano (concussion), Angus Wagner (knee) and White (shoulder) were not considered for selection due to injury.

The game is the Force’s first pre-season tune-up prior to the 2024 Super Rugby Pacific season that commences with a home clash against the Hurricanes at HBF Park on Friday 23 February.

The Force will also take on the ACT Brumbies on Saturday 10 February at Revo Fitness Stadium in Claremont as part of the pre-season, with the game doubling as the Club’s Fan Day, free of charge for supporters to attend from 4pm-7pm.

Super Rugby Pacific pre-season trial game

Queensland Reds v Western Force

Saturday 3 February 1pm WST

Ballymore Stadium - live stream on Stan Sport

Team List

Marley Pearce, Tom Horton, Santiago Medrano, Thomas Franklin, Jeremy Williams, Michael Wells, Tim Anstee, Will Harris, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Ben Donaldson, Chase Tiatia, Hamish Stewart, Sam Spink, Harry Potter, Max Burey; Feleti Kaitu'u, Charlie Hancock, Tiaan Tauakipulu, Lopeti Faifua, Ollie Callan, Ian Prior, Reesjan Pasitoa, Taqele Naiyaravoro, Hamish Moore, Atu Moli, Reginald Churchward, Jhy Legg, Titi Nofogatotoa, Henry Robertson, Bayley Kuenzle, George Poolman, Henry O’Donnell, Ronan Leahy

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