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New halves out in Force

Date

Justin Chadwick

Alby Mathewson throws a pass for Auckland in the ITM Cup. Mathewson will play for the Force in Super Rugby this season.

Alby Mathewson throws a pass for Auckland in the ITM Cup. Mathewson will play for the Force in Super Rugby this season. Photo: Getty Images

The Western Force will unveil their new-look 9-10 combination in Friday night's Super Rugby trial match against the Brumbies in Darwin.

The Force overhauled their back line following last year's disastrous 3-13 win-loss campaign, but it's the new halves combination that holds the greatest intrigue.

Former All Blacks halfback Alby Mathewson and South African playmaker Sias Ebersohn will be handed starting roles against the Brumbies, with the pair in the box seat to cement their places in the side for the season opener against the Melbourne Rebels on February 15.

New Force coach Michael Foley said the chemistry between Mathewson and Ebersohn had been impressive at training, but he wanted to see how it held up in the heat of battle.

Injured Wallabies halfback Brett Sheehan, who is set to miss at least the first four weeks of the season with an ankle injury, will battle Mathewson for the No.9 jersey once he recovers, while Ebersohn will have to fight off the likes of Kyle Godwin, Sam Norton-Knight and Sam Christie for the five-eighth role.

The match against the Brumbies will pit the Force up against their former skipper David Pocock, who left at the end of last season.

''I guess everyone's mates off the field, but when you do battle on the field, everyone's enemies,'' new Force centre Jayden Hayward said when asked about the presence of Pocock.

AAP

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