Western Force flanker Fergus Lee-Warner determined to show why he should be in the Wallabies camp

Headshot of Nick Taylor
Nick TaylorThe West Australian
Fergus Lee-Warner is determined to show why he should be in the Wallabies camp.
Camera IconFergus Lee-Warner is determined to show why he should be in the Wallabies camp. Credit: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

Western Force flanker Fergus Lee-Warner will be out to show Australian coach Dave Rennie why he deserves Wallabies selection in Friday’s Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Brumbies.

Lee-Warner had been tipped as a bolter for next month’s three-day camp and will be disappointed not to be joining teammates hooker Feleti Kaitu’u, second-rower Izack Rodda and uncapped winger Toni Pulu.

He has been one of the most consistent ball-carriers and tacklers in the competition.

Force coach Tim Sampson said: “I’m sure he has a bit of frustration and rightfully so.

“Week-in-week-out he’s performed exceptionally well.

“He rolls up his sleeves, gets through the dirty work and has a high involvement in the game.”

Lee-Warner will be in his favoured blindside flanker role against the unbeaten Brumbies at HBF Park.

Sampson has made two changes to the pack with openside flanker Kane Koteka returning after missing three games with a knee injury and prop Santiago Medrano starting.

There are also two changes to the backline with centre Kyle Godwin and Pulu both back from head knock protocols.

The Force are coming off a six-day turnaround after the dramatic 20-18 after-the-siren win over Fijian Drua.

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 28: Toni Pulu of the Western Force is tackled during the round three Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match between the Hurricanes and the Western Force at McLean Park on May 28, 2021 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)
Camera IconToni Pulu will return for the Brumbies game after recovering from a head knock. Credit: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

They need further improvement and have to get rid of simple errors to avenge the last minute 29-23 loss to the Brumbies in round one.

“Bringing a complete performance to our game is really important this week,” Sampson said.

“It’s about encouraging players to play with confidence.

“In golfing terms individuals have got the yits with their game.

“They only need one good moment in training or early on in the game to get through that.

“We spoke about it and we’ve seen at training that they’ve relaxed their shoulders a bit.

“We have proved we can do it when we are chasing games, a tight contest or we are behind on the scoreboard.”

Sampson said they had learnt a number of lessons from the heartbreak season opening loss.

“The key lesson is confidence,” he said.

NAPIER, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 28: Kane Koteka of the Western Force in action during the round three Super Rugby Trans-Tasman match between the Hurricanes and the Western Force at McLean Park on May 28, 2021 in Napier, New Zealand. (Photo by Kerry Marshall/Getty Images)
Camera IconWestern Force and Kane Koteka are preparing to take on the Brumbies. Credit: Kerry Marshall/Getty Images

“We took a lot of confidence out of that game.

“It was good for the players to see how we played that day, the positive actions, how we challenged them, where we were good.

“But also acknowledging and appreciating where the Brumbies are good, how we combat their strengths.”

Meanwhile Brumbies backrower Rob Valetini has called on players to show greater accountability at training.

“We think there’s a lot of room for improvement,” Valetini said.

“It all starts with training, being accountable and players being responsible for their own roles in the team,”

Valetini said they were well aware of the Force threats.

“We know they are going to have a lot of possession, (we’re trying to) find ways to get the ball back through our defence,” he said.

Force starting side: 1 Harry Lloyd, 2 Feleti Kaitu’u (c), 3 Santiago Medrano, 4 Jeremy Thrush, 5 Izack Rodda, 6 Fergus Lee-Warner, 7 Kane Koteka, 8 Brynard Stander, 9 Ian Prior, 10 Jake McIntyre, 11 Manasa Mataele, 12 Bayley Kuenzle, 13 Kyle Godwin, 14 Toni Pulu, 15 Jake Strachan. Reserves: 16 Andrew Ready, 17 Bo Abra, 18 Greg Holmes, 19 Tim Anstee, 20 Ollie Callan, 21 Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, 22 Reesjan Pasitoa, 23 Richard Kahui.

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