Wessels urges Force to play with no fear

Super Rugby
by AAP

Western Force coach Dave Wessels has urged his team to play without fear against defending champions the Hurricanes in Saturday night's Super Rugby clash in Perth.

The Force were thrashed 55-6 a fortnight ago by the Highlanders in their most-recent home game, and Wessels said he and his players were desperate to atone for that performance.

Australian teams are 0-20 this season against NZ outfits, and the Force face an uphill battle to buck that trend against a Hurricanes outfit, littered with All Blacks.

Wessels has urged his team to throw some metaphorical punches against the Hurricanes, and not worry too much about the damage their highly rated opponents can cause.

"If we play scared, if we play conservatively, I don't think we'll get pay out of that," Wessels said.

"I think one of the best ways to be effective defensively is to attack well.

"If you look at that Highlanders game, we played differently to how we had the other games.

"I don't think that worked for us.

"What's worked for us is keeping the ball in hand and having a go, and throwing some punches at different times."

The Force's meltdown against the Highlanders came just a week after posting a famous win over the Jaguares in Argentina.

Wessels feels his team have developed a trend of playing well the week after a disappointing loss.

The Force cast aside their disappointment against the Highlanders to beat the Reds 40-26 last week in Queensland.

Wessels has challenged his group to back up on that good performance, and he has tried to make training as intense and as uncomfortable as possible this week.

"I felt really bad after that Highlanders game - not so much because of the scoreline, but how we played," Wessels said.Wessels said the Force were 'lethargic' when they faced a rampant Highlanders side. Photo: Getty Images"I thought we looked lethargic and off the pace right from the start. Part of it was due to the travel (back from Argentina).

"I guess the sad thing about that Highlanders game was it was at home in front of our fans, so we want to atone for that.

"The Force welcome back star fullback Dane Haylett-Petty from a hamstring injury, but winger Chance Peni (groin) fell just short in his bid to return this week.

The Hurricanes (10-2) sit second in the NZ conference, and have been bolstered by the return of star five-eighth Beauden Barrett (concussion).

All Blacks utility back Nehe Milner-Skudder will enter the fray off the bench after recovering from a broken foot he suffered in round three.

The Force host the Hurricanes at nib Stadium tomorrow night, kicking off at 9:55pm AEST, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS.