Sydney bound and ready for Super Rugby AU campaign
With the Western Force playing squad, coaches and support staff set to fly out to New South Wales on Friday, Head Coach Tim Sampson expressed the group is “full of excitement” ahead of their first Super Rugby match-up since 2017.
The club’s reintroduction into the one-off domestic competition has been met with great enthusiasm by the players, as they’re set to reignite their rivalry with the NSW Waratahs, who they coincidentally played in their last Super Rugby clash on an emotionally charged night in Perth three years ago.
“The team can’t wait,” Sampson said.
“The excitement has been building for a long time to play against the Australian clubs again. It’s been brewing since the new form Super Rugby structure was first mooted and we’re here now in the midst of game week, prepared and determined for the challenge.”
After the players take on the Waratahs on Saturday night, they’ll be getting acquainted with their hub in the Hunter Valley, an arrangement Sampson is very thankful for.
“We’re delighted to be back in the Hunter Valley region after a great experience here during pre-season when we had a practice match in front of a big crowd,” he said.
“It’s a strong rugby area and there’s a lot of passion there, so we really appreciate St Philip’s Christian College hosting us and allowing us to use their facilities.”
While the hub presents a great opportunity for the team to bond and grow stronger together, it also presents fresh challenges for the group, with some players unable to be part of the travelling squad due to restrictions.
“We’re family, we’re one squad and we’ll maintain that while we’re away,” Sampson stated.
“We’ll be including all the players back home in our meetings and Zoom calls, so we’ll be keeping a close eye on them while we’re away. We’ve got a great group, the players staying behind are great people and great athletes, so I’m confident they’ll continue to operate to high standards.
“The aim is to make the most of this situation, it’s nothing but positivity from our end.”
Sampson believes the team is primed and ready to compete in what is a historic time for the club.
“I’m stoked for the players. For them to have the opportunity to go and play in a competition like this in front of Wallabies selectors is brilliant,” he said.
“We have the utmost belief that we can perform in this competition, as there are individuals in our team that can certainly attract the attention of the right people for national selection. I’m just rapt the players get this opportunity and the loyal Sea of Blue get to witness them play at this level again.”
New recruit Nick Frisby will join the team on Friday when they arrive in Sydney, with Force legend Pek Cowan joining the team in the Hunter Valley upon completion of his mandatory quarantine post overseas travel.
The club would like to extend a massive thank you to St Philip’s Christian College, Principal Darren Cox, Business Manager Jacques Mouton for their hospitality and assistance, as well the Newcastle Hunter Rugby Union for all of their help throughout this process.
|Brynard Stander (vc)|
|Ian Prior (c)|