Western Force name star-studded side for their Super Rugby AU opener

Five players with Test experience will bolster a Western Force starting line up that has the “heeby-jeebies” ahead of Friday’s Super Rugby AU opener against the Brumbies.

The Force suffered a winless return to the Australian domestic tournament last year but have gone shopping since as they prepare for their first Super Rugby game in Perth for almost four years.

Wallabies pair Tevita Kuridrani (Brumbies) and Tom Robertson (Waratahs), Argentinians Santiago Medrano and Tomás Lezana, and Irish great Rob Kearney have all been named in the starting line-up.

A bench including former Wallaby prop Greg Holmes, World Cup-winning All Black Richard Kahui, Argentinian playmaker Tomás Cubelli and former Australian Sevens talent Tim Anstee is equally impressive.

The Brumbies this week queried whether the new-look side could find enough continuity to match the defending champions in the tournament opener.

But Lock Fergus Lee-Warner is confident they’ll be able to make a statement.

“We’ve been going down to training with serious heeby-jeebies, because we knew it’d be a hard slog,” he said.

“It’s been a preseason like no other and it’s only going to set us up well and hopefully the Brumbies can keep up with us when we go to work.”

Perth product and backrower Kane Koteka said Friday would be a proud moment for rugby in the city and that had not been lost on them.

“The Force has always been my team and when they got cut it was quite devastating,” he said.

“I went away to Japan for two years, but I’m back now and so grateful that the Force are back in Super Rugby where they belong.”

FORCE: Robert Kearney, Byron Ralston, Tevita Kuridrani, Kyle Godwin, Marcel Brache, Jono Lance, Ian Prior, Brynard Stander, Kane Koteka, Tomas Lezana, Fergus Lee Warner, Jeremy Thrush, Santiago Medrano, Feleti Kaitu’u, Tom Robertson. Reserves: Andrew Ready, Angus Wagner, Greg Holmes, Ryan McCauley, Tim Anstee, Tomas Cubelli, Jake McIntyre, Richard Kahui.