The simple way the Force are keeping their loved ones close on marathon road trip

Super Rugby - AU
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Western Force might be spending weeks away from their families but their loved ones are never far from their thoughts.

The Force display a banner in their change rooms during training and on game day with the words "Why I play" in the centre and pictures of players' families around that.

Originally the Force were expected to be free to head back to Perth this week, with their round five match against the Rebels scheduled for HBF Park, but coronavirus numbers in Victoria and New South Wales have meant WA's borders have remained closed.

With no end in sight to the concerns in the eastern states, the Force are prepared to spend the rest of the tournament on the road, similar to their Melbourne counterparts.

To try and keep their motivations high, the team arranged to make the banner to remind players of their nearest and dearest before every match.

Fullback Jack McGregor said the concept was immediately embraced by the team.

"The  idea was floated from a few players but it's something we always talk about it, family and our why and stuff but I think it was just putting that talk into something visual that we could see especially while we were away.

"I think it came from one of the older guys but everyone really pushed for it when the idea was floated and we all sent in the pictures we wanted up there straight away so the whole team loves it."

Centre Henry Taefu, who has young children, said the poster was a good way for players to keep their families close despite many being so far away physically.

"We all miss our families being away but having that banner up there it's just a reminder of why we're here and the importance of family," he said.

"We're all pretty close as a group but just before training, we walk out, you see why you play rugby up there and I think it's an important reminder just why we do what we do."

McGregor said the move had really helped keep morale high despite the separation from their loved ones.

"I think here at the Force, we really drive a family-driven club so everyone's really close with each other's partners and families and their close ones so to have that banner up on that wall means a lot to everyone, just a little piece of why they play the game and their family back at home," he said.

"It's just a reminder every time you walk past of why we're here and why we're doing what were doing.

"No complaints for us here, we love being here and being part of this comp and it's just an extra motivation that we see every day which helps us push for better things."

McGregor will be going up against some familiar faces when the Force meet the Rebels on Friday night, having started his Super Rugby career there.

Injuries hampered his progress but he said he felt he was proving he belonged at this level in Super Rugby AU.

McGregor has started every game for the Force and has been among their best players in the opening month of the competition.

"I think I've, since coming to Perth, I've been given some opportunities which I'm very grateful for and a lot of guys in the team as well, this is the opportunity for them to have their first crack at Super Rugby as well, as well as guys that are coming back from a few years out," he said.

"The team dynamic is really good at the moment and everyone's really enjoying the opportunity and the chance to play against the best teams in Australia."

The Force take on the Rebels at Leichhardt Oval on Friday July 31, kicking off at 7:05pm AEST, LIVE on Foxtel, Foxtel Now and Kayo Sports. Buy tickets here. Buy a Kayo subscription here.