Force confident in continuing World Series momentum

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Force are confident they can keep their World Series momentum going, after an opening sell-out on Friday night.

Force fans packed out nib Stadium, with the club offering $10 tickets and discounts for rugby juniors, for the first of seven World Series matches.

There are no points or trophies up for grabs, making the competition a unique proposition in terms of luring fans, and there will be plenty watching keenly to see if the sell-outs can continue all the way through the series.

Force skipper Ian Prior said he didn’t think keeping the numbers up would be a problem.

“Over the next six games, I don't think there's going to be a lack of motivation from the fans,” he said.

“Obviously it was a pretty unique spectacle entertainment wise away from the rugby and then the rugby as you could see was very free flowing.

“Obviously, we’ve got coaches who are embracing all the innovations and all the new rules and most importantly they're backing us to make those decisions.”

The Western Force returned to nib Stadium. Photo: Getty ImagesFrom a players’ perspective, a tournament with nothing directly on the line is unusual, but Prior said the World Series went beyond results.

“This game particularly tonight,  it was bigger than the win and the loss on the ladder,” he said.

“It was obviously to give the WA community hope and just to show that the WA people over here are resilient, they are passionate and as players we're the same.”

The competition’s new rule innovations had minimal impact on the game, though it was generally free-flowing, with neither team cracking a power try, though set piece certainly flowed better.

Coach Tim Sampson said he hoped the lineouts, especially, would become even quicker in the coming weeks as teams adjust to the rules.

“I think for the time being for World Series rugby it's probably a good start where we're at,” he said.

“We can probably still speed the lineouts up a bit after tonight and hopefully the remaining six games we can look at that and have that discussion with the referees prior to the game.”

Andrew Forrest was front and centre on Friday night. Photo: Getty ImagesIt was hard to miss the mark of mining magnate Andrew Forrest on Friday night, with the billionaire funding the World Series, on the ground pre-match and on the sideline with the team as the game went on.

Forrest spoke to the players at full-time, with Prior saying the message was one of pride.

“He was just pumped,” he said.

“Obviously, to see this come about after so little time last year and how quickly it's come together and how well the guys have come together, he was just saying how proud he was of us and obviously as a West Australian, they were of us.

The Force play their next World Series match against Tonga on Sunday May 13.