Force focus on Reds as Wessels rules O'Connor bid out

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

There are several mouth-watering matchups that will light up nib Stadium on Thursday night but none more so than Samu Kerevi squaring off with Curtis Rona.

The pair will line each other up from outside centre and Western Force coach Dave Wessels expects both players to put on a show.

"The good thing about Curtis is that there was a fair bit of pressure on him from the Sydney media (last week)," Wessels said.

"He was on the back pages there because of his clash with Folau and he came down for breakfast (on game day) smiling and relaxed so that’s a guy that wasn’t rattled by the attention at all.

"There’s going to be some challenges on both sides of the coin, in attack Curtis is going to give Samu some challenges as well so that will be one of the many good match-ups tomorrow night."Curtis Rona and the Force backs had limited opportunities against Israel Folau and the Waratahs on Saturday. Photo: Getty ImagesRona and his fellow Force backs never got going against the Waratahs last Saturday in Sydney but Wessels has struck that part of his team's game from the record, pointing to the sloppy conditions.

"We felt in Sydney we didn’t get our game started and the conditions didn’t allow for that," Wessels said.

"We were a bit scratchy and a bit frustrated that we didn’t win the game." - Dave Wessels

"I think we let ourselves down in some areas but the nice thing is that there is a short turnaround (this week) - we don’t have to sit with it for seven days.

"We’ve been pretty honest as a group together and the credit to the boys is that they were genuinely hurting after that game."

As he did as part of yesterday's team announcement, Wessels implored rugby fans - not just Force fans - to fill nib Stadium in a show of support for Super Rugby in Perth.

"There is obviously some discussion about our future in Super Rugby and we feel one of the ways to put a mark in the sand and to make a point to everybody that is part of those discussions is to get people out here - that means not only for Force supporters but if you want to keep Super Rugby in Australia you should come tomorrow night and bring a friend," he added.

"That’s what is really going to matter at the end of the day - the decision makers need to see their is an appetite for Super Rugby here (in Perth)." - Dave Wessels

When questioned, Wessels immediately dismissed any thought that James O'Connor may find a home in Perth after his latest off-field drama.

"It would be really sad if a guy of his potential at his age gets lost to rugby,” Wessels said.

“I think he needs someone to put their arm around him a bit and help him out.”