There’s been a sense of empathy between the Force and Rebels in recent weeks but the two sides will go at each other on Friday night and Force coach Dave Wessels is one man glad that will be the primary talking point.
After months of uncertainty over their respective futures in the 2018 Super Rugby competition, this match-up moves the conversation on to the field, a brief relief from the draining saga.
“I think the focus for a change between the two teams is on the rugby rather than the stuff that's happening off-field, which is great,” he said.
There’ll be a sense of unity, though, once the final whistle goes on Friday night, with Wessels saying there’s a feeling that this season has been the two teams against the rugby world.
“I think in a lot of ways we sympathise with where the Rebels are at off-field,” he said.
“I think they're going through a lot of the things that we're going through so we certainly don't see it as an 'us vs them' scenario.
“I think in a lot of ways we see it as us and them verse everybody else.
“I think both teams will just be pleased to be able to express ourselves on the field.
“We do this job because we love rugby and that's what we're going to be able to do tomorrow night, which is the focus.”
Wessels said the Force would welcome a post-match gathering with the Rebels, but he’s glad that rugby will be the primary thing on everyone’s minds until then.
“I guess we'd like to have a beer with them after the game and just talk about how they're feeling vice versa,” he said.
“No one really knows what's going to happen from here so we're all caught in a bit of limbo but the nice thing is tomorrow the focus is on the rugby for a change.”
The disjointed Super Rugby competition means no domestic sides have played since the first weekend of June, but Wessels said that had been a blessing in disguise for his team, after a round-the-world trip leading into the break.
“It's been a benefit for us because we had a seven-game block back-to-back with around the world travel mixed in between,” he said.
“There was stuff during that seven-game block that we realised we needed to fix in our game, we were kind of itching to fix and to be honest when you're travelling so much, you lose training time.”
The Force host the Rebels on Friday night, kicking off at 7:55pm AWST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au radio.