Force winger Chance Peni may not suit up for the rest of the 2017 season, after rupturing his groin.
Peni was ruled out of Saturday’s clash with the Chiefs and coach Dave Wessels said the winger was in danger of missing the entire season.
“Chance has ruptured his groin so there’s a chance that unfortunately he doesn’t play again this year,” he told reporters on Friday.Peni’s fellow league convert Curtis Rona will take his spot on the wing after returning from concussion.
The speedster is far from the only injury concern for the Force, with debutants Lewis Carmichael and Mitch Short in the 23, after joining the club as injury cover this season.
Wessels had plenty of praise for Scotland’s Carmichael, who joined the club ahead of its trip to New Zealand, with the second rower rated highly overseas.
“I’m pretty excited to see how Lewis goes,” he said.
“He’s getting big wraps out of Scotland. Some of the Scottish coaches are talking about him playing Test rugby in the next 12 months.”
Skipper Ben McCalman will miss the game with a nerve problem in his shoulder, but Wessels hopes for him to be back next week, along with lock Adam Coleman (calf).Halfback Michael Ruru (ankle) is also on the sidelines, with Ian Prior teaming up with Luke Burton in the halves and Jono Lance on the bench, a move that Wessels said was about storing some experience for the back end of the Chiefs encounter.
The Force’s clash with the Chiefs is their third home match this season, after wins over the Reds and the Kings, and it is still being played under the cloud that this could possibly be their final season in Super Rugby.
Despite the ongoing saga, which has been punctuated with legal action from the Force and the Rebels in the past fortnight, Wessels said they couldn’t rest on the ‘emotion’ card on Saturday.
“Yes we need to come with energy and enthusiasm but we also need to get our strategy right.
“You’re not going to beat the chiefs on enthusiasm alone because they’re going to come with a fair bit of that themselves.
“We’ve practised pretty hard, we think we have a relatively good plan but a plan’s all well and good until you get punched in the mouth.”
The Force host the Chiefs on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.