NRC: Talks of Force cull are 'premature'

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Perth Spirit captain Heath Tessman believes his side’s winning run shows the potential of West Australian rugby, after speculation around the Force's Super Rugby future.

The Force won just two matches in their 2016 Super Rugby season, while the Spirit has claimed six wins in eight weeks of the NRC competition.

With Super Rugby looking at a potential format change in 2018, there has been talk that the Force could be the casualty in a compacted Australian conference, but Tessman said it was too early to start writing Force obituaries.

“I think it's absolutley a little bit premature,” he said.

“It's easy to say we'll cut one of the teams that's the [furthest] all depends on what they want to be making their decisions on,” he said.

“For us going forward, I think we're just looking forward to actually tally getting back into preseason after this game and getting on with the job next year.

Tessman said stringing wins together was a boost of confidence but their mentality was all on being successful at the NRC level.

“Obviously it's in the back of your mind whenever you lose some rugby game like the season we had over in Perth with the Force it grates at you a little bit but obviously this group here, it’s a different group,” he said.

The Perth Spriit will be fighting for a finals spot. Photo: Johan Schmidt“We've just got a fresh start with this and we just want to look forward to a win tomorrow night.

“The way the guys have been playing together and playing well, is a good testament to what the coaching staff are doing over there and hopefully a good sign going forward.”

Tessman said the chance for some of the Force’s new recruits to play alongside their 2017 teammates meant their development would be accelerated.

“It only bodes well for us the way that some of the guys are playing together and the way they're gelling,” he said.

“How quickly [centres] Ben Tapuai and Billy Meakes have come together, both Ian [Prior] and Jono [Lance’s] combinations with Ryan Louwrens and then Ian and Jono's combination when they've been playing together has been excellent so it bodes well for the future."

The Spirit come into the final as underdogs against the minor premier NSW Country Eagles, after travelling between coasts in the past fortnight, but Tessman wasn’t ready to look for

“We’re travelling well, the frequent flyers are going up.

“We’ve been recovering well, the guys are looking after us really well, all our training staff and we're just ready to get into it tomorrow night.”

The Perth Spirit take on the NSW Country Eagles in Tamworth’s NRC grand final on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:40pm AEDT.