Fourie not returning for Force just yet

by AAP

Western Force will keep star signing Jaque Fourie on ice for a bit longer, with the World Cup-winning Springbok set to miss the June 9 clash with the Melbourne Rebels.

The South African centre is the biggest name in the Force's squad, but he was also lured to Perth to be the team's defence coach.

The 35-year-old was a key part of the coaching team during the Force's wins over Fiji Warriors and Tonga, and he is set to continue in the role in games against the Rebels and Crusaders.

The July 14 clash with Samoa looms as the most likely game that Fourie will make his Force debut as a player.

"We wanted to get him through those first couple of games and have a focus on his coaching. And with the importance of these next two games, we're pretty keen for him to just sit in that coach's seat at the moment," Force coach Tim Sampson said.

"He's ticking over with his fitness and gym side of things. But he's really tapped into coaching at the moment, and it's important (he stays there) leading into the Rebels and Crusaders."

Jeremy Thrush in action for Gloucester. Photo: Getty ImagesFormer All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush will arrive in the coming weeks, and is expected to suit up for the June 22 clash with the Crusaders.

Next week's match against the Rebels looms as a grudge match of sorts, given the Force and Rebels were locked in a battle for Super Rugby survival last year.

The Force ended up losing that fight, with billionaire mining magnate subsequently stepping in to save the Perth-based franchise from total oblivion.

Forrest's World Series Rugby has made a positive start, drawing crowds of 19,466 and 16,323 in the first two matches.

The Rebels signed a host of the Force's best players at the end of last season, as well as coach Dave Wessels.

But Sampson said the Force didn't hold any ill feelings towards the Rebels.

"There's a lot of friendships amongst the two clubs," Sampson said.

"I know our guys are in contact a lot with their players. They're close mates. We're blessed to be able to play against a Super Rugby outfit.

"I'm sure they're going to send a strong squad over. Its important during the June Test window that they continue to get playing minutes for their players who aren't involved in the Wallabies.

"So we're expecting a really competitive match. It's a sort of mate versus mate in that particular game. The guys are excited about it."

The Force take on the Rebels in their next World Series match on June 9, kicking off at 8pm local, 10pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and on 7TWO in WA.