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Spirit name five Wallabies for ARC debut

Rugby WA
Monday August 6, 2007

The Perth Spirit will make its Australian Rugby Championship debut against the Western Sydney Rams with a squad consisting of five Wallabies and 15 Western Force players.

The WA team, led by scrumhalf Matt Henjak, will play the Rams at Members Equity Stadium in Perth on Friday night with only four players in the starting XV without Super rugby experience.

Western Force flyhalf James Hilgendorf will begin at pivot, ahead of Scott Daruda and Lachlan MacKay who will both start on the bench. Outside Hilgendorf are bustling Australia A centres Junior Pelesasa and Ryan Cross, with the exciting Cameron Shepherd at fullback.

Speedy Western Force new signing Nick Cummins will play on one wing, with the towering Fijian-born, Brisbane-raised flyer Ratu Siganiyavi on the other. Second rowers Tom Hockings and Sitaleki Timani are the only players in the pack without Super 14 caps, while Scott Fava will start at blindside flanker with Richard Brown at No. 8 and David Pocock on the openside.

The starting front row boasts hooker and vice captain Tai McIsaac, with AJ Whalley at tight head prop and Pek Cowan at loose head. Last year’s Best club player award recipient James Stannard is on the bench, as is Nedlands flanker and Australian Sevens player, Will Brock.

Rudi Vedelago was unavailable for selection after returning to Brisbane for family reasons. Gareth Hardy, Luke Doherty and Haig Sare were unavailable for selection due to injury.

Perth Spirit Head Coach John Mulvihill said the team had prepared well over recent weeks and was looking forward to Friday night’s challenge.

“All our patterns and structures are in place; it’s now up to the players to bring their enthusiasm and skill execution to the game,” he said. “The Rams upset the Vikings in a trial last week and will come into the game with a great deal of confidence. It will be a very fast and physical contest.”

Perth Spirit Squad: 1 Pek Cowan, 2 Tai McIsaac, 3 AJ Whalley, 4 Tom Hocking, 5 Sitaleki Timani, 6 Scott Fava, 7 David Pocock, 8 Richard Brown, 9 Matt Henjak (captain), 10 James Hilgendorf, 11 Ratu Siganiyavi, 12 Junior Pelesasa, 13 Ryan Cross, 14 Nick Cummins, 15 Cameron Shepherd. Reserves: 16 Luke Holmes, 17 Troy Takiari, 18 Scott Fardy, 19, Will Brock, 20 James Stannard, 21 Scott Daruda, 22 Lachlan MacKay.

The Perth Spirit’s five Wallabies are Matt Henjak, Tai McIsaac, Scott Fava, Cameron Shepherd and Lachlan MacKay.

Mazda Australian Rugby Championships - Round One:

Perth Spirit vs Western Sydney Rams
Members Equity Stadium, Perth
Friday night, August 10
Kick-off: 7:00pm (local/AWST), 9:00pm (AEST)

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