Reinforcements arrive in NZ as Naisarani firms for Force re-debut

Wed, May 3, 2023, 12:16 AM
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
The Reds and Force battle it out at Suncorp Stadium

The Western Force are set to be boosted by Wallaby Isi Naisarani as they prepare for the daunting task of facing the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Simon Cron's side heads to NZ battered after a tough defeat to the Reds last week, losing Bryce Hegarty (knee), Bayley Kuenzle (hamstring) and flanker Tim Anstee (concussion).

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Folau Fainga'a (Achilles) and Izack Rodda (foot) remain on the mend as they push for a finals berth.

However, the arrival of new signing Naisarani is a welcome one, who is coming off his own knee injury after returning from Japan.

The backrower debuted for the Force in 2017, with captain Michael Wells confident he can bring an edge to the club.

“He’s got international experience, his reputation speaks for itself,” Wells said on Naisarani.

“Hopefully we just get him close to the ball, get him carrying, because he’s a big body and that’s what he wants to do and thrives on.

“He brings that ball-carrying threat, loves to get his hands on the ball and the high density carries, he’s a big body and he’ll definitely throw his weight around.

“For us, we need go forward through the middle, particularly against a team like the Crusaders, who will bring good line speed, they’re very organised defensively.

“We need bodies to punch holes and adding someone in who can give that feature to our team, that’s massive for us and that’s something Isi thrives on.”

Sevens star Max Burey and Kiwi centre Nikolai Foliaki have also joined as cover, whilst Argentianan Santiago Medrano is primed to return after he was a late withdrawal last week.

“It’s that classic cliche of the next man up," Wells said.

“It’s great having Max (Burey) come in, he’s come from a great program in Norths and in terms of stepping into a playmaker position, he’s running the show and feels like he’s been here before. He seems comfortable and he’ll be leading the day in terms of playcalling if picked. There’s no real lag between him and Bryce."

The Force have never won in Christchurch with five defeats and a draw in their six outings.

Wells understands the aura that surrounds the defending champions but believes they need to approach the challenge with a fresh mindset.

“It’s a very fine line, particularly for guys who haven’t played them before,” Wells said.

“I remember a game in 2018 for the Waratahs, we were up 28 points at one stage and then they scored a couple of tries just before half-time and you could see the look in people’s faces

“…You acknowledge the fact that it’s a challenge and you can either rise to that challenge or you can fall to it. I hope that we’re the type of group that continues to rise to challenges rather than fall.”

“We’ve spoken about no matter who the opposition is, our attitude stays the same,” centre Sam Spink added.

“It’s an exciting opportunity but as a team, we need to focus on ourselves and fixing the wrongs of last week.”

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