Staniforth eyes Sharks as Force count the wounded

Wallaby and Force winger Scott Staniforth could be bumped up to the starting line up as the Force count the cost of drawing with the Crusaders on the weekend.

Cameron Shepherd who has been playing on the wing was seen limping off in the second half and looks set for a week out injured after he sprained his ankle when several players fell across his leg during a tackle.

The worry is that it is the same ankle that he broke last year when he played for the Wallabies and the Force are likely to err on the side of caution with the talented 24-year-old.

Nick Cummins who has been impressing on the opposite wing has been rated as a 50-50 chance (hamstring) to take on the Sharks which means the last week’s try scorer Haig Sare along could start on the opposite wing to Staniforth.

Staniforth had knee surgery in the off season has made a return to rugby but has only played 12 minutes off the bench against the Cheetahs in round two and was then left out of the squad for the Force’s three-game road trip to Canberra and New Zealand as coach John Mitchell opted for match-hardened players.

Another injury concern for the Force was new signing Ben Castle but he has been cleared of any serious damage to his neck and shoulder so he is likely to retain his place against the Sharks.

The Force are in ninth place with 12 points but the are just four points off the fourth placed Blues.

Historically the Force have not faired too well at home (probably as most of their players are foreign to Perth) and with home games against the Sharks, Reds and Hurricanes coming up over the next month coach Mitchell is eager to see the Force start turning Perth into something of a fortress.

Since the team was formed and joined Super Rugby they have won just eight of their 21 matches at the Subiaco Oval.

“It’s very tight on the ladder so we just have to look after our own backyard against the Sharks,” Mitchell told PerthNow.

“We are one of few sides in Australia and New Zealand that have been on the road for three weeks so to get seven out of 12 points is pleasing.”

Wallaby and captain Nathan Sharpe said that spirits were high after the testing road trip.

“We’ve been on the road, we’ve finished our biggest road trip and we’ve gone through half our away games now,” Sharpe said.

“There’s plenty of games left at home and that leaves us in good shape.

“It’s a big game for us this weekend and we certainly want to focus on getting the job done at home against the Sharks.”

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