Alby Mathewson, formerly of the Blues, now trying to make
his way at the Force. Photo Getty
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
The Force have completely revamped their backline since their
doomed 2012 campaign, when they only narrowly avoided the
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
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
"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,"
"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.