Rebels attack coach Morgan Turinui says Friday night’s match against the Force will be unique in its emotion.
Turinui said he had admired the Force on and off the field, and the way they’ve handled the challenges they’ve had this year.
Force coach Dave Wessels said on Thursday that the teams would likely get together for a post-match beer, having shared a parallel journey in 2017, and Turinui echoed that sentiment.
“It’s almost a show of solidarity between the teams,” he said.
“I think if anyone can have compassion and empathy for the other side it’s the Force and Rebels for each other.
“The way both teams have approached it - i’m really impressed with the way the Force have played out their whole season.
“They’ve been under this sort of pressure longer than us and the way they’ve approached it’s been outstanding.”
Though much of this year’s discussions have focused on that off-field saga, on-field Turinui said they’d have a major challenge on their hands.
“They’ve (the Force) played some good rugby, they’re very physical, they have a good set piece and good backline play,” he said.
“(Having flyhalf) Jono Lance back on the bench, the fact they can have a guy like that on the bench shows the depth they’ve developed this year.
The Rebels and Force have played out a thrilling history in their Super Rugby clashes and Turinui said he expected the final moments to be critical on Friday night.
“We’re looking to make sure our set piece is good, we’re playing well in attack, defending well and being physical and knowing that the last 10-15 minutes can go down to the wire and being that team that can push through,” he said.
The Force take on the Rebels on Friday night, kicking off at 9:55pm AEST, 7:55pm AWST LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO.