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Justin Chadwick

Force 'bromance' adds strength to backline mix

Fullback Chase Tiatia is hoping to help the Western Force bounce back to form against the Blues. (Richard Wainwright/AAP PHOTOS) (AAP)

Western Force fullback Chase Tiatia has relished the chance to rekindle his "bromance" with Toni Pulu, and he has plenty of love for the rest of the team's backline as well.

Pulu and Tiatia played together at the Chiefs, and they've been reunited at the Force following Tiatia's arrival this season.

The pair have both been named in the starting line-up for Sunday's Super Rugby Pacific clash with the Blues in Auckland.

Gareth Simpson, Bryce Hegarty and Hamish Stewart will continue in the 9-10-12 combination, while outside centre Sam Spink, winger Zach Kibirige and Pulu round out the backline along with Tiatia.

Star winger Manasa Mataele will miss the game against the Blues, but he remains a vital weapon for the Force.

Tiatia, who spent two stints at the Chiefs either side of a spell at the Hurricanes, is loving his time in the west.

"We've got a good connection and chemistry going as a back three unit," Tiatia said.

"I've played with TP before at the Chiefs, so it's good to rekindle that bromance there.

"With all the other boys like Zach and Manasa and Strauney (Jake Strachan) it's always good fun running around with them as well.

"They're quite excitement machines out wide, so we try to give them the ball nice and early and let them do their thing.

"There's still a lot of room to grow, which is quite exciting for us."

A costly second-half fadeout resulted in the Force losing 43-35 to the Highlanders last week.

The Blues are a side that normally ooze All Blacks talent, but they will be without nine of their internationals this week.

Roger Tuivasa-Sheck has been ruled out for a month with a hand injury, while Alex Hodgman will miss the rest of the season with a shoulder injury.

James Lay is nursing a minor ankle complaint.

Beauden Barrett, Finlay Christie, Caleb Clarke, Rieko Ioane, Nepo Laulala and Dalton Papali'i have all been rested as part of the All Blacks policy.

Force coach Simon Cron isn't taking anything for granted though, saying it would be a mistake to underestimate the Blues' back-up players.

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