The Perth Spirit has been bolstered by the return of Western Force players Angus Cottrell, Solomoni Junior Rasolea and Tetera Faulkner for the Round Six clash with the Melbourne Rising at McGillivray Oval on Saturday.
The Spirit head into the game with confidence after a big bonus point win against Queensland Country in Rockhampton last weekend, which saw the men from the West go over for eight tries.
Wallaby prop Tetera Faulkner comes in and strengthens the front row alongside captain Heath Tessmann and will look to show his experience against a big Rising forward pack.
Ross Haylett-Petty comes back into the fold after missing the Country game and once again pairs up with Cottesloe teammate Adrian Hall.
Vice-captain Angus Cottrell, leads an inform back trow into the match with Kane Koteka and UWA’s Richard Hardwick either side of him at the back of the pack.
Ryan Louwrens slips back into the team, with Ian Prior giving him support off the bench after an outstanding game last week where he broke the Buildcorp National Rugby Championship (NRC) record, scoring 29 points including eight conversions from as many attempts.
Fijian flyer Solomoni Junior Rasolea is back in the 13 jersey, pairing up with Force teammate Kyle Godwin.
Wanneroo’s Byron Hutchinson, will make his run-on debut for the Perth Spirit at fullback after an impressive performance off the bench in Rockhampton last Saturday.
Energetic back rower Al Rovira earns his spot on the bench, the Associates centurion will be eager to get on and replicate his stunning performance from the semi-final against the Rising last season.
Kalamunda winger Faamanatu Apineru is set to make his Buildcorp NRC debut off the bench, after leading the try scoring in this year’s Pindan Premier Grade with 21 tries in 17 matches.
Spirit head coach Tai McIsaac, says it’s very important that they take the momentum from the Queensland Country game into the Rising match.
“We need to go at the Rising with the same attitude and aggression that we did with Queensland,” he said. “The performance we put in in the first half was exceptional and the boys know, that’s what we expect every week.”
“Having Gus, Tet and Junior coming back in is great and they will give us everything they have. We know the Rising has again been one of the front runners this season and is putting up a strong team, but I think we match them pretty well across the park.”
“I’m really looking forward to this match, it should be a great game to watch and with the weather finally in our favour we’re hoping for a big crowd on the hill.”
Meanwhile, Tom English, Scott Fuglistaller and Luke Jones return to the Melbourne Rising starting lineup for Saturday’s match against Perth Spirit in Western Australia, as Head Coach Zane Hilton made three changes to the side which defeated the Greater Sydney Rams 37-36 in Morwell on Saturday.
The trio, who boast nearly 150 Super Rugby caps between them, impressed off the bench against the Rams and will be tasked with using their experience to ensure that the Melbourne Rising start strongly against a Perth Spirit side coming off an impressive victory against Queensland Country in Rockhampton in Round Five.
Hilton, who has also recalled impressive Harlequin winger Justin Marsters to the bench after he played in Rounds Two and Three, said his side was looking forward to travelling to Western Australia to take on the Spirit.
“We’re really looking forward to heading west and showing the competition exactly what we are capable of, “Hilton said. “We think it is an exciting challenge, and we think travelling away from home as a group will allow us to galvanise and really gel as a unit.
“Perth obviously played very well on Saturday and scored a lot of points, and we’re certainly aware of their capabilities. They have a strong, cohesive forward pack, skilful inside backs and plenty of gas out wide, so we will need to be at our best.”
Fans can watch the Spirit take on the Rising at McGillivray Fields at UWA Park from 3.30pm AWST / 5.30pm AEST LIVE via foxsports.com.au or FOX SPORTS Now.
Perth Spirit team to take on Melbourne Rising:
1. Chris Heiberg, Perth Bayswater
2. Heath Tessmann (C), Nedlands
3. Tetera Faulkner, Wanneroo
4. Adrian Hall, Cottesloe
5. Ross Haylett-Petty, Cottesloe
6. Kane Koteka, Wests Scarborough
7 Richard Hardwick, UWA
8. Angus Cottrell, Associates
9. Ryan Louwrens, Cottesloe
10. Luke Burton, UWA
11. Brad Lacey, Wests Scarborough
12. Kyle Godwin, Associates
13. Solomoni Rasolea, Cottesloe
14. Maalonga Konelio, Joondalup
15. Byron Hutchinson, Wanneroo
16. Anaru Rangi, Nedlands
17. Francois van Wyk, UWA
3. Jermaine Ainsley, Nedlands
19. Riley Winter, Wests Scarborough
20. Alex Rovira, Associates
21. Ian Prior, Nedlands
22. Faamanatu Apineru, Kalamunda
23. Daley Harper, Kalamunda
Melbourne Rising team to take on Perth Spirit:
1. Cruze Ah-Nau (Footscray & Rebels)
2. Pat Leafa (Box Hill & Rebels)
3. Duncan Chubb (Southern Districts, NSW)
4. Sam Jeffries (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
5. Luke Jones (Moorabbin & Rebels)
6. Jordy Reid (Melbourne Unicorns & Rebels)
7. Scott Fuglistaller (Moorabbin & Rebels)
8. Lopeti Timani (Footscray & Rebels)
9. Ben Meehan (Box Hill & Rebels)
10. Jack Debreczeni (Endeavour Hills & Rebels)
11. Stacey Ili (Melbourne Uni)
12. Lloyd Johansson (Harlequin)
13. Dom Shipperley (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
14. Tom English (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
15. Jonah Placid (Melbourne Uni & Rebels)
16. Mitch Andrews (Melbourne Unicorns)
17. Fereti Sa’aga (Melbourne Uni)
18. Tom Moloney (Brothers, QLD)
19. Steve Cummins (Harlequin & Rebels)
20. Colby Fainga’a (Footscray & Rebels)
21. Maradona Farao (Harlequin)
22. Sione Tuipulotu (Southern Districts)
23. Justin Marsters (Harlequin)