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O’Connor to front Saders
James O’Connor has been recalled to the Force team to take on the Crusaders in Christchurch on Saturday.
The 18-year-old centre has been used sparingly at the beginning of the campaign, with John Mitchell preferring to use him off the bench. O’Connor replaces Junior Pelesasa and will face 20-year-old No 12 Ryan Crotty.
O’Connor is one of three changes with blindsider Richard Stanford making his starting debut for the Force, while David Pusey replaces Tom Hockings at lock.
Despite losing three matches on the bounce, Mitchell is wary of under-estimating the defending champions.
“History shows they don’t often suffer repeat losses and they’ll be throwing everything at us on Saturday night,” Mitchell said.
“What’s important is that we respond with the same urgency and finish our tour with a strong performance after our result in Hamilton [where we lost 31-13 to the Chiefs].”
Force – Drew Mitchell, Nick Cummins, Ryan Cross, James O’Connor, Cameron Shepherd, Matt Giteau, Josh Valentine, Tamaiti Horua, David Pocock, Richard Stanford, Nathan Sharpe (c), David Pusey, Ben Castle, Tai McIsaac, Pek Cowan. Subs: Luke Holmes, AJ Whalley, Tom Hockings, Matt Hodgson, Chris O’Young, Junior Pelesasa, Haig Sare.
This thread will be updated throughout the day…