Mitchell shows faith for Stormers clash

Emirates Western Force head coach John Mitchell has shown faith in his team for Friday’s clash against the Stormers, making only one change to the side that lost to the Highlanders.

Flyhalf James Hilgendorf is the sole omission after suffering a groin strain in last week’s game. He is replaced by Matt Giteau at pivot, with Junior Pelesasa moving from the bench to inside centre and Scott Daruda coming into the 22.

Mitchell said it would take time for relationships and an understanding between players to develop and he would not be rushed into making positional changes in the absence of injury.

“We have decided to put the onus on the same group to be accountable,” he said.

“We are about helping players grow and giving them a chance to improve their game. But that brings with it responsibility, and the players must better their performance.”

Mitchell said areas for improvement had been identified and had been worked on at training, with particular focus on sticking to the team’s playing method.

“It’s critical that we improve the way we execute our method, and do it together, bringing more accuracy and patience to our game,” he said.

Mitchell said playing any of the South African teams in South Africa was an exciting challenge which, in its short history, the team had responded well to.

During their three week tour of South Africa last season, the Emirates Western Force beat the Cheetahs in Kimberley, finished level with the Cats (now known as the Lions) in Johannesburg and went down to the Sharks in Durban.

“The Stormers will be keen to bounce back from their loss last week, just as we are, but we see playing at Newlands as a great opportunity,” Mitchell said.

“They have an international standard backrow, so it should be quite a battle in the loose and I imagine both sides will lose some bark!”

The squad is: 1. Gareth Hardy 2. Brendan Cannon 3. Troy Takiari 4. Rudi Vedelago 5. Nathan Sharpe (c) 6. David Pusey 7. Richard Brown 8. Scott Fava 9. Matt Henjak 10. Matt Giteau 11. Cameron Shepherd 12. Junior Pelesasa 13. Ryan Cross 14. Scott Staniforth 15. Drew Mitchell 16. Tai McIsaac 17. Angus Scott 18. Luke Doherty 19. David Pocock 20. Chris O’Young 21. Scott Daruda 22. Haig Sare

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