Perth Spirit host Brisbane City at UWA Sports Park on Sunday afternoon as they look to get themselves back inside the top four.
With just two matches left the Spirit sit just outside finals contention while Brisbane City are all but destined to relinquish their tight grip on the Buildcorp NRC trophy.
The Western Australia side are boosted with the inclusion of capped Wallaby Pek Cowan who plays his first NRC match since 2014.
“I spoke to Pek about it during the week, just having him in there and his experience will be great especially for the club guys around him not to mention the work he gets through and the skills he brings to our forward pack,” coach Dwayne Nestor said.
He’s joined in the first XV by the returning hard-running centre Bill Meakes and scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens, who will partner Ian Prior in the halves with Jonno Lance rested.
Nestor confident his side can bounce-back from last weekend’s loss to the ladder-leading NSW Country Eagles.
“We just have to make sure that our set-piece is up to scratch,” he said.
“The boys have worked very hard on that this week and I think they will be very motivated to make sure the scrum especially is effective.
“Given that Billy Meakes is back in the midfield we just have to unleash the backs.
“With Ryan Louwrens back and Ian Prior at flyhalf if we can get good platform ball then our backline will be able to do some good things.”
It’s fair to say Brisbane’s season hasn’t gone according to plan with the two-time defending premiers languishing second from the bottom on the ladder.
Rookie NRC coach Rod Seib has made two changes to the match day 23 as the side look for their first away, and just second overall win of the year.
Queensland Under-20s star Jayden Ngamanu will line-up at fullback for his run-on debut, pushing Brad Lacey into the centres, while Tuaina Tualima comes in for Jack de Guingand on the reserves.
“It’s a good test for us this weekend to head to Perth and earn a victory against a strong team,” Seib said.
“We’ve challenged the group to demonstrate what they’re capable of.
“We’ve seen it in patches this season, but nothing short of a consistent performance for 80 minutes will get us a win.”
Starting 1-15: Pek Cowan, Heath Tessman, Shambeckler Vui, Kieran Stringer, Ross Haylett-Petty, Brynard Stander, Richard Hardwick, Ben McCalman, Ryan Louwrens, Ian Prior, Ammon Matuauto, Ben Tapuai, Billy Meakes, Marcel Brache, Manihera Eden.
Reserves: Anaru Rangi, Laione Mulikihaamea, Jermaine Ainsley, Onehunga Havili, Russell Burges, Michael Ruru, AJ Alatimu, Semisi Masirewa.
Starting 1-15: Pettowa Paraka, Andrew Ready, Sam Talakai (c), David Findlay-Henaway, Lukhan Tui, Luke Beauchamp, Michael Gunn, Isi Naisarani, Moses Sorovi, Jake McIntyre, Alex Gibbon, Patrick James, Brad Lacey, Chris Kuridrani, Jayden Ngamanu.
Reserves: Matt Mafi, Markus Vanzati, Feao Fotuaika, Criff Tupou, Adam Korczyk, Angus Fowler, Mitch Felsman, Tuaina Tualima.