Force embracing emotion ahead of World Series opener

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman in Japan

Force coach Tim Sampson wants his team to embrace the emotion of a possible sell-out crowd when the team plays its first match as a reformed outfit on Friday night.

Sampson, who has been in Perth a little over a month, doesn’t want his players, many of them from the group that dealt with the Super Rugby saga last year, to ignore the significance of the clash.

For many of those players, a professional rugby career was under question just six months ago, but now they have a firm future.

“There are some sad stories, the unfortunate reality of what happened in 2017 but the guys are buzzing,” he said.

“Just to see smiles on their faces and talking about how their family and friends are going to be there to enjoy this moment with them, whereas six months ago there would've been a big question mark and they would've been scratching their heads with where their rugby future lies."

“It's really important that we do embrace it and speak about it at the front end of the week rather than leave it close to match day.

“I think naturally players will become emotionally attached to this game for whatever reason but it is important that we do keep their emotions in check as much as possible.”

Tim Sampson will take the Force's reins. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart WalmsleySampson said stories from fans since he’d arrived in the west had given him ‘goosebumps’, and it appears they’ll be voting with their feet on Friday, with the match heading for a 20,000 sellout, something very few of them would ever have felt.

“I think being exposed to it externally last year I think what always was impressive and struck the people on the east coast was the passion over here, from their supporters.

“It's pretty unique. Once I got over here, I met members and supporters within 24 hours of landing and some of the stories I heard from the supporters gave me goosebumps, just with how it rocked them and how they dealt with it.

"(We've had) people taking days off work to get ready for this Friday and just to see them excited again and talking about the Western Force is pretty special to everyone over here."

The Force take on the Fiji Warriors on Friday night, a team that presents an unknown quantity for Sampson, but it’s not one he’s worried about.

“Historically, over many years, they play a very open field attacking mindset style of rugby,” he said.

“We've touched on that this week, without going into too much detail, because I think with the way our squad is, where we're at with the short prep and we've just got to focus more so on ourselves.”

The Force take on the Fiji Warriors on Friday night at nib Stadium, in their first World Series match.