Force get welcome break before facing Lions

The British & Irish Lions first opponents in Australia, the Western Force, plan to use the next week to recharge their batteries ahead of their historic first clash with the tourists. [more]

Force get welcome break before facing Lions

The British & Irish Lions first opponents in Australia, the Western Force, plan to use the next week to recharge their batteries ahead of their historic first clash with the tourists.

A morale boosting 19-18 win over the Highlanders last weekend gave them the perfect launch-pad for their build-up to the clash with Warren Gatland’s Lions on Wednesday, 5 June.

With a bye in this weekend’s Super Rugby fixture list they have nothing else to concentrate on other than trying to become the first team to beat the Lions in Western Australia.

The tourists have a fine record in Perth and have won all four fixtures there by big margins. Their first fixture there was in 1930, when they beat Western Australia 70-3, while it was 60-3 in 1966.

The 1989 Lions kicked-off their campaign with a nine-try romp in a 44-0 victory and in 2001 there were 18 tries as the Lions posted a then record 116-10 win. Those fixtures were all against representative teams, while next week’s clash with the Force will be the first against a Super Rugby franchise in the Western Australian capital.

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Force skipper Matt Hodgson believes the 11-day break from travelling his players can now enjoy will not only freshen up the bodies of his team, but help to sharpen their focus before they feature in one of the biggest games of their lives.

"I don't think there will be anyone struggling to get up for the Lions game, that's for sure – it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” said Hodgson.

“It will be good to get a bit of rest into the boys and have a couple of days off. But come Wednesday week, we'll be ready to go again – the whole squad is very excited."

The Force are due to face the Waratahs four days after their clash with the Lions, which will give their coach Michael Foley a few selection headaches. But the former Wallaby hooker will at least have his international wing Nick Cummins fit to play next week after missing the game against the Highlanders with a knee injury.
 

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