The Western Force are desperate to end their horrible season with a face-saving win over the Brumbies in Saturday night’s Super Rugby clash in Canberra.
The struggling Force have plumbed lows both on and off the field.
The ARU took over the running of the Force last month in a bid to dig the Perth-based franchise out of their financial mess, while coach Michael Foley was sacked shortly after with his team sitting on bottom of the Australian conference.
The dire situation was compounded last week when it was revealed a number of Force players misbehaved during a recent trip to Bloemfontein.
Star fullback Dane Haylett-Petty was fined $5000 for drunkenly urinating in the hallway of the team’s hotel, while stand-in skipper Pek Cowan was docked the same amount for taking the team’s mini-bus without permission after a 1am curfew.
The Force have just two wins to show from 14 games this season, and they face an uphill battle to add to that tally against a Brumbies outfit fighting for a finals berth.
Only one Australian team will make the finals this year – either the Brumbies or NSW Waratahs.
Both teams are equal on points, but the Waratahs are behind on overall wins and they face a tough final-round assignment against the Blues in Auckland.
Force winger Luke Morahan, who took over the captaincy duties for last week’s 22-3 loss to the Stormers, said his team were determined to end the season strongly.
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“We are massively desperate,” Morahan said.
“We want to win for each other and win for the Force fans.
“It’s going to be a tough encounter. The Brumbies are playing for a lot, but so are we.”
The match will be the last chance to impress for interim Force coach Dave Wessels, who is keen to throw his hat in the ring for the full-time gig.
Wessels has led the Force to two losses since replacing Foley, but he’s confident the team have displayed enough improvement to show they’re heading in the right direction.
“I feel the team has built over the past two weeks,” Wessels said.
“In Bloemfontein our attack really fired (in the 30-29 loss to the Cheetahs).”
Back-rower Angus Cottrell will miss the Brumbies clash after injuring his ankle and knee against the Stormers.
“And there were parts of the game against the Stormers where our attack – particularly in that last quarter – was really starting to work.”