Adding strength to the quarterback for the Highlanders game

The Western powerhouse pulled a surprise selection by naming Saracens full-back Gareth Simpson for his Super Rugby Pacific debut – and it all started with a Zoom call on Christmas Eve.

Simpson is among five changes in the powerhouse starting fifteen in Sunday’s game with the Highlanders in Invercargill.

Captain Michael Wells and lock Jeremy Williams return from headbutts, while Zak Kiberge (hamstring) and Ryan McCauley are also included.

Former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrash will miss at least two weeks with a heel injury.

The biggest surprise selection was Simpson, who wasn’t even on the Force’s original roster for the season.

A torn anterior cruciate ligament of new signing Henry Robertson forced manager Simon Crone to scramble for another scrumhalf option, and Simpson – the South African-born Englishman – was one of the players they recommended.

Simpson previously played for the Worcester Warriors and in February signed a two-year contract with Saracens.

He will go through the super season on loan with The Force before returning to England to work again with Saracens.

“When we lost Robo (to injury) in Japan we were looking for someone who could manage matches and kicks well,” Krohn told reporters on Thursday.

“We did a pile of homework on (Simpson) with the footage and followed him.

“I zoomed in on him on Christmas Eve, I’m sure he enjoyed that, had a conversation for probably an hour, just interviewing him and questioning him.

“From that Zoom call, I could tell he was the right person for our team.”

Crone hopes that prostitute Folau Fainga’a can play against the Highlanders.

Fainga’a was substituted from last week’s 21-18 win over Moana Pasifika with a header.

Typically, players miss 12 days under the league’s concussion protocols, but there can be exceptions.

“After the game, he took a few tests, and passed more HIA tests all the next day,” Crone said.

“He didn’t have any symptoms. So he’s still going through a process where they can apply for it to get over the fact that he hasn’t had a bump on the head before.

“He’s really confident, but he has to go through therapy.”

Thrush was brought out of retirement on the eve of the season, and is set to decide whether or not to play again once he has recovered from his heel injury.

“We’ll always try to make room for him, but that will be his choice,” Crohn said.

The Highlanders lost their first three games of the season, while the Power are 2-1.

Power Team: Tom Robertson, Volo Vaenga, Santiago Medrano, Jeremy Williams, Ryan McCauley, Michael Wells, Ole Callan, Welcome Warren-Fusayako, Gareth Simpson, Bryce Hegarty, Tony Polo, Hamish Stewart, Bailey Konzel, Zack Kiberge, Chase Tiatea. Res: Feleti Kaitu’u or Tom Horton, Angus Wagner, Siosifa Amone, Felix Kalapu, Tim Anstee, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, George Poolman, Manasa Mataele.

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