Historic match an opportunity for Force: Foley
February 22, 2013
Greg Growden and Russell Barwick preview this weekend's Super Rugby and Six Nations matches.
Western Force coach Michael Foley regards this weekend's historic clash with Super Rugby newcomers the Southern Kings as a rare and exciting opportunity for his new-look team.
The Force, who lost their season opener to Melbourne last week, are the first Super competition opponent for the Kings, who had an opening-round bye.
Most pundits expect the Perth-based side to play the role of party pooper at Port Elizabeth's Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium early on Sunday (AEDT).
However the Kings, who replaced perennial competition stragglers the Johannesburg-based Lions, will be driven on by emotion and expected packed stands.
"In numerous games that you play at provincial level, very few of them actually meet a Test match atmosphere," said Foley. "The prospect of 40,000 or 50,000 people - it's a really exciting opportunity for a provincial team to be involved in the first match for a new side and a wonderful atmosphere."
While Foley has focused on developing the game style the Force unveiled against Melbourne, he said they'd checked out what they could of the Kings.
"We've seen them play a couple of trials," Foley said. "They played a very big squad across those trials, two very different teams in those games. We thought that they played with an enormous amount of enthusiasm and a very high tempo. They've got some threats across the field, particularly out wide, with a couple of very quick wingers."
The Kings will be captained by former Springboks back-rower Luke Watson, one of the few widely recognised players at the fledgling franchise.
"We have experienced players like Bandise Maku and Andries Strauss who have played a lot of Super Rugby but, on the flip side, there are some who have not," Watson said. "We all have to start somewhere and we have no doubt in the ability and commitment of those guys who will be pulling on a Super Rugby jersey for the first time."
Foley felt having the South African leg of the Force's campaign so early in the season could be a positive for his revamped squad, achieving a greater level of familiarity than if they were playing at home.
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