Force welcome back Cowan, Tapuai

The Western Force have been boosted by the return of centre Ben Tapuai and prop Pek Cowan for Saturday night’s Super Rugby clash with the Blues in Perth.

Cowan has been named on the bench after recovering from a broken arm, while Tapuai will start at outside centre.

Luke Burton has recovered from a long-term foot injury and is in line to play his first match of the season after being named on the bench.

The Force had the bye following their 40-22 win over the Sunwolves a fortnight ago in Japan.

The Blues are aiming to bounce back following last week’s 43-5 loss to the Lions in Johannesburg.

“In Tokyo, we played the type of rugby we’ve been working towards,” Force coach Michael Foley said.

“The biggest difference came as a result of us focusing on enjoying the game and attacking every contest without fear.

“Without doubt, there have been times where our disappointment as a result of not getting things ‘right’ has held us back.

“But I believe the boys now have not only a clear picture of the type of game we’re chasing, but also the attitude that allows us to enjoy games while we continue to improve.”

Meanwhile, lock Josh Bekhuis returns from injury to bolster the Blues.

A key figure in the line-out, Bekhuis missed the loss to the Lions due to a calf strain.

He replaces Hoani Matenga, who goes to the bench.

Coach Tana Umaga has made two other changes to his starting 15 for the match on Saturday, both in the backs.

Halfback Billy Guyton will wear the No.9 jersey for just the second time this year, taking over from Bryn Hall.

Former Melbourne NRL player Matt Duffie comes in on the right wing for the in-form Melani Nanai, who has been moved to fullback.

Force: Dane Haylett-Petty, Marcel Brache, Ben Tapuai, Kyle Godwin, Luke Morahan, Ian Prior, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson (capt), Brynard Stander, Adam Coleman, Ross Haylett-Petty, Guy Millar, Harry Scoble, Francois van Wyk. Res: Anaru Rangi, Pek Cowan, Tetera Faulkner, Rory Walton, Angus Cottrell, Ryan Louwrens, Luke Burton, Semisi Masirewa

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