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Injury-hit Force ring in rugby changes

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 27/04/2017 Justin Chadwick

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring) and winger Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone) are the latest Force players to be added to the casualty list. © Cameron Spencer/Getty Images Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring) and winger Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone) are the latest Force players to be added to the casualty list. The Western Force have dug deeper into their reserves in the wake of a crippling injury toll ahead of Saturday night's Super Rugby clash with the Lions in Perth.

Fullback Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring) and winger Luke Morahan (fractured cheekbone) are the latest Force players to be added to the casualty list.

With the likes of Ben McCalman (shoulder), Adam Coleman (calf), Jermaine Ainsley (elbow), and Chance Peni (groin) also injured, the Force are light on for options.

Haylett-Petty is expected to miss six weeks, while McCalman's absence is indefinite as he deals with an ongoing nerve issue in his shoulder.

With a host of regulars unavailable, coach Dave Wessels has named Future Force Foundation member James Verity-Amm on the wing for his Super Rugby debut.

Verity-Amm becomes the sixth Future Force debutant in club history, and the third this season.

Former Australian Under 20s winger Alex Newsome returns to the starting side, with Marcel Brache moving to fullback.

Former Stormers flyhalf Peter Grant has been named on the bench for his first match of the year, while forwards Pek Cowan and Brynard Stander return to the starting line-up.

The Force have been able to remain competitive despite their mounting injury toll and Cowan backed the team to put in another strong effort against the high-flying Lions.

"Our depth is being stretched but the way we're playing and the way we've been able to manage it has been great," Cowan said.

"I think we've got at least seven to eight guys out of our starting 23 who aren't available through injury.

"It's the nature of the beast in Super rugby, and contact sport in general."

The Force (2-5) sit third in the Australian conference and need to beat the Lions in order to have a realistic hope of reaching the finals.

Force: Marcel Brache, James Verity-Amm, Curtis Rona, Bill Meakes, Alex Newsome, Luke Burton, Ian Prior, Isi Naisarani, Matt Hodgson (capt), Brynard Stander, Ross Haylett-Petty, Lewis Carmichael, Tetera Faulkner, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Pek Cowan. Res: Heath Tessmann, Ben Daley, Shambeckler Vui, Onehunga Havilli. Richard Hardwick, Mitch Short, Jono Lance, Peter Grant.

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