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Western Force set for halfback showdown

Date

Justin Chadwick

Perth bound ... Alby Mathewson throws a pass for Auckland in the ITM Cup.

Perth bound ... Alby Mathewson throws a pass for Auckland in the ITM Cup. Photo: Getty Images

PERTH: One is currently playing for the Wallabies and has been a mainstay at the Western Force since 2010. The other is a former All Black who has been lured to the Perth-based franchise as their marquee international player.

Welcome to the selection headache facing new Force coach Michael Foley, who must choose between 33-year-old Brett Sheehan and 26-year-old Kiwi Alby Mathewson for the starting halfback role.

The Force have completely revamped their backline since their doomed 2012 campaign, when they only narrowly avoided the wooden spoon.

Former Cheetahs five-eighth Sias Ebersohn, Junior Rasolea, Sam Norton-Knight, Ed Stubbs, Jayden Hayward and Chris Tuatara-Morrison are among the new arrivals, along with Mathewson.

But the most intriguing question is who out of Sheehan and Mathewson will get the nod at halfback.

Foley doesn't yet have the answer, but it's a question he'll ponder heavily over the next few months as he runs his charges through a typically gruelling pre-season campaign.

"It definitely will be a battle. All good nines have that type of personality anyway," Foley said on Monday.

"We are extremely lucky to have two international nines. Nine is the position that touches the ball more than any other.

"Temperament at nine and 10 is critical.

"I can think of any number of nines and 10s that have a complete skill set and physically they're good.

"But when the pressure really comes on, their decision making fails them.

"So temperament will be very important - making the right decision at the key times."

Whichever way Foley goes, he will be safe in the knowledge a quality No.9 will be running the play for the Force.

Mathewson notched four Tests for the All Blacks in 2010 and spent the previous three seasons with the Blues.

Sheehan's international career was revived during the recent Rugby Championship following a raft of injuries to Australia's scrumhalf stocks.

"Both of them have a nice running game around the edge of the ruck and they're tough, so they're not frightened to get close to big forwards and play our guys through those holes," Foley said.

"And both of them have good a good pass.

"Besides the temperament, we're looking for them to get to the ball quickly and do something with it."

The arrival on Monday of former Highlanders and Hurricanes centre Hayward as the Force's second overseas development player completed the club's 30-man roster.

AAP

Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG vs AUS 01:30Twic
WAL vs RSA 01:30MilS
View All Fixtures
 
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