Emerging West Australian prop Kieran Longbottom will be the first locally developed player to captain the Western Force as the side lines up for their second tour match against a Test strength Samoa on Saturday.
Longbottom had a breakout season for the team in 2011 and is a wonderful example of the opportunities being afforded talented local players in WA. The versatile front row forward made his way through club ranks with Rockingham before progressing to the RugbyWA Academy and ultimately success in Super Rugby.
The 25-year-old takes over from Sam Wykes who was skipper in the opening tour game but sustained a heavy knock in the opening half of last week's clash and will play a limited role off the bench this time around.
"Like Sam, Kieran deserves the opportunity to captain the Western Force. His performances in Super Rugby and his application and dedication to becoming a better player and leader at the team has gained a lot of respect amongst his team mates," coach Richard Graham said.
"Being a local WA player, captaining the team will no doubt mean a lot to Kieran and I'm delighted that he has earned this opportunity."
After a strong performance again an international standard Samoan side last Saturday, Graham has challenged his young squad to repeat their efforts in the final game of the tour.
The Samoan President's XV will feature a majority of players who were responsible for the islander's shock win against the Wallabies last month and will use the match as final preparations before embarking on the Rugby World Cup campaign.
Graham has made a number of changes to his run-on side with five trial players given a starting chance as they press their claims for a contract in 2012.
"I felt it was important to not only reward performance but also give further opportunity to players who are competing for contracts at the team next season," Graham said.
"Samoa has picked a test strength side. We are paying them respect through our preparation and are looking forward to building on the performance from last weekend.
"The challenge for the group is to back up against a very strong opposition and up our performance from our last outing."
Western Force: 15 Nick Cummins, 14 Sam Wara, 13 Patrick Dellit, 12 Rory Sidey, 11 Jordan Rapana, 10 Willie Ripia, 9 James Stannard, 8 Jay Havelu, 7 Will Brock, 6 Angus Cottrell, 5 Phoenix Battye, 4 Tom Hockings, 3 Ruan Smith, 2 Ben Whittaker, 1 Kieran Longbottom (captain).
Replacements - from: Nathan Charles, Paul Alo-Emile, Cruze Ah-Nau, Sam Wykes, Tevita Metuisela, Ted Postal, Dominic Fuller, Tim Bennetts, Alfie Mafi.
Date: Saturday, August 27
Venue: Apia Park
Kick-off: 15.00 (10.00 Perth time, Sunday, August 28; 02.00 GMT, Sunday, August 28)
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