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The Emirates Western Force will welcome captain Matt Hodgson, winger Nick Cummins and off-season recruit Hugh McMeniman into their starting XV to play the Southern Kings in Port Elizabeth on Saturday.
The three Wallaby representatives did not take part in last weekend’s 30-23 loss to the Rebels in Melbourne, with Hodgson returning from a hamstring injury and McMeniman a late withdrawal from the side due to a pectoral strain. Cummins started in Force A’s 23-16 win over Rebel Rising, in his first appearance for the year after sustaining a knock to his knee during pre-season training and not participating in either of the side’s trial matches.
Hodgson will become the eighth player in the Emirates Western Force’s history to captain the side in Super Rugby and will run on at openside flanker replacing Chris Alcock, who will start as one of five forwards on the Western Australian bench.
McMeniman is set to make his first appearance in Super Rugby since his final season with the Queensland Reds in 2009. The 29-year-old will pack down alongside Sam Wykes in the second row, behind an unchanged front row of Pek Cowan, Nathan Charles and Tetera Faulkner.
Cummins represents the sole change to the Emirates Western Force backline that produced an impressive first-up performance in their maiden start together against the Rebels. The Wallaby flyer replaces Pat Dellit on the right wing after Dellit was forced to return home with facial fractures and an ankle injury sustained against the Rebels. He is expected to be available for selection for the Force’s Week Five match against the Reds in Brisbane.
Saturday night’s match represents the Kings’ first in Super Rugby after replacing the Lions in the South African conference.
Emirates Western Force Head Coach Michael Foley said he was keen for his side to build on its performance against the Rebels.
“We’re fortunate to be in a position to bring in Hodgo, Hugh and Nick for Saturday,” he said.
“Last week there were some promising signs that we’re heading in the right direction. Our challenge is to continue to develop as a team and persevere with the style of game we've begun to play.
“We’re looking forward to the challenge that awaits the side on Saturday night.”
2013 Super Rugby – Week Two
Southern Kings v Emirates Western Force
Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth
Saturday, 23 February 2013
Kick-off: 7.10pm (local)/1.10am, Sunday, 24 February (AWST)
1. Pek Cowan
2. Nathan Charles
3. Tetera Faulkner
4. Sam Wykes
5. Hugh McMeniman*
6. Angus Cottrell
7. Matt Hodgson (c)
8. Ben McCalman
9. Alby Mathewson
10. Sam Christie
11. Alfie Mafi
12. Kyle Godwin
13. Winston Stanley
14. Nick Cummins
15. Will Tupou
16. Heath Tessmann
17. Kieran Longbottom
18. Toby Lynn
19. Richard Brown
20. Chris Alcock
21. Mick Snowden**
22. Junior Rasolea
* Emirates Western Force debut
** Emirates Western Force & Super Rugby debut