The Emirates Western Force will line up against the Chiefs tonight in their final ‘away’ fixture for the 2013 season.
Captain Matt Hodgson will surpass Nathan Sharpe’s record of the most Emirates Western Force games played when he runs onto the field in his 93rd match for the Western Australian province in Pukekohe.
Scrumhalf Brett Sheehan is set to complete his return from injury after being selected in the starting line-up for the first time this season, while Jayden Hayward returns to the run-on side at fullback.
The visitors head across ‘the ditch’ following a character-defining defensive effort to play out an 11-all draw with the Queensland Reds in Perth on Saturday. The Force will look to build on that performance against the New Zealand conference leaders, who boast the best attacking record in the competition (316 points scored).
The Chiefs line-up has been rejigged through injury, with All Black centre Richard Kahui sidelined for the remainder of the season with a shoulder injury, while livewire midfielder Tim Nanai-Williams (groin) has also been forced out. On the other side of the ledger, the Waikato side will welcome back prop Ben Afeaki and scrumhalf, Tawera Kerr-Barlow.
Tonight’s match at ECOLight Stadium, Pukekohe – home of ITM Cup side, Counties Manukau – will be the seventh encounter between the two sides in Super Rugby, with the Force looking to return home with their first win over the reigning champions in New Zealand.