The Otago Daily Times series looks at the fortunes of the 12 teams in the new Super Rugby Pacific competition. Hayden Meikle finds out more about the Western Force.
Coach: Tim Sampson (fifth season).
Star forward: Burly prop Tom Robertson will be key to a very good Force pack that has been bolstered by the signing of former Reds lock Izack Rodda.
Star back: Halfback and captain Ian Prior sets the standard. But most eyes will be on Fijian winger Manasa Mataele, who heads to Perth after struggling for regular starts at the Crusaders. If he gets the ball in space, watch out.
Exciting prospect: Reesjan Pasitoa is still developing but the playmaker could be set for a big year.
Nickname (rated out of 10): 3. Any sporting nickname that is singular rather than plural will rate poorly.
Jersey (rated out of 10): 6. Just a good honest rugby jersey.
Random player from history: James Hilgendorf.
Wait, he plays on this team?: Richard Kahui is still in the Force squad. Dude has to be 40! And ... you must be joking ... Jeremy Thrush as well!
Last year: A mixed bag for the Force. Won four and lost four in the Australian leg of Super Rugby. Then, like the other Aussie teams, got tonked in Transtasman, losing all five games, albeit most by narrow margins. But it wasn’t really about results for the Force. The Westerners were just pleased to be back in Super Rugby after being booted out in 2017.
Predicted finish: 8th. There is certainly a handful of class in the Force squad, and the likes of Robertson, Rodda and Sitaleki Timani will ensure the forwards never take a backwards step. But depth could be an issue, and the Force has to relocate to the east coast for at least the first two rounds due to pandemic issues. A sneaky playoff spot is possible.
Republished courtesy of the Otago Daily Times.