Force keen to extend Thrush's retirement backflip

Sun, Feb 26, 2023, 12:52 AM
Justin Chadwick - AAP
by Justin Chadwick - AAP

Western Force coach Simon Cron says Jeremy Thrush's shock retirement backflip could last the entire Super Rugby Pacific season as the side battles an early injury outbreak.

Thrush retired at the end of last season, but Cron sent out an SOS to the former All Blacks lock when Ryan McCauley suffered a pre-season shoulder injury.

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Another foot fracture to Wallabies star Izack Rodda further stretched the Force's lock stocks, resulting in Thrush being named on the bench for Saturday night's 34-27 win over the Rebels in Perth.

Thrush, who had less than two weeks of full training under his belt, made a huge impact off the bench in the second half, capped by the 37-year-old even scoring the winning try in the 72nd minute.

The veteran lock will play at least the first part of the Super Rugby season, but it could end up being the entire campaign.

That would mean a delicate balancing act for Thrush, who is part of the coaching team at the Force Academy, and is also the head coach of WA rugby union side Wests Scarborough.

"It could well be," Cron replied when asked if Thrush's playing stint could last the whole season. 

"That will be a decision between him and his partner as well.

"At the moment, we've got a good solid block at the start here where Thrush will be in the mix.

"He's coaching a lot and loving it. But I think he also enjoys playing."

Cron will be doing everything possible to get Thrush up for next Sunday's clash with the Queensland Reds in Melbourne.

"He could even start, he's good enough," Cron said. 

"He'll be bigger and better for that hit-out. I think I'll be massaging his calves so he gets through the week."

Wallabies hooker Folau Fainga'a and star winger Manasa Mataele missed the Rebels match with Achilles tendon issues, and they are no guarantee to return against the Reds. Hooker Feleti Kaitu'u (hamstring) and outside centre Sam Spink (hamstring) could also miss the game.

Rebels coach Kevin Foote was left bemoaning his team's missed tackle count - a whopping 35 compared to the Force's 13.

The loss was extra hard to swallow for Foote given that former Force coach Tim Sampson is now his assistant.

"I feel guilty about losing, because he's such a good man and he's invested a lot into us and what we're doing," Foote said.

"His family are all here in Perth, so he's all by himself in Melbourne.

"It would have meant a lot to him to get a win against the Force. I'm feeling for him right now.

"He's such a humble guy. He's calm, he's a really good sounding board for me."

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