Force learn Drua lessons before daunting Eden Park trip

April 4, 2024 4:02 pm

Western Force boss Simon Cron says his bottom-ranked side can only hang with the red-hot Blues in Auckland if they learn the lessons of a shock thrashing at the hands of the Fijian Drua.

The Perth-based side have only won once in their opening six Super Rugby Pacific encounters and are massive underdogs for their Eden Park test on Friday night.

They’ve also lost impressive backline talent Harry Potter for the season with an ankle injury and are feeling the pinch from Lautoka’s waterlogged conditions last Saturday, where the Drua brushed them aside 31-13.

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“Every game we play, every opportunity we get, we’ve got to learn from those games,” Cron said.

“There’s some key learnings that we’ll take out of the Drua game that will help those players for the rest of their careers around wet-weather rugby.

“But we are focusing on some of the things we did really well and making sure we drive those home too, because when we play together and we play for 83 minutes rather than 63 we’re actually going pretty good.”

Potter heads for ankle surgery on Friday, shifting Max Burey into the starting fullback role, with Junior Wallabies flyer Henry O’Donnell picked on the bench for a potential SRP debut.

“Harry unfortunately for him, he’s suffered that injury from being tackled from behind and it’s really disappointing for him,” Cron said.

“He’s pretty disappointed about it, but like all of us, will look forward and he’s now focusing on what he can do to get better and he goes into surgery (on Friday).

“However the guys who are here, they get another opportunity to prove themselves, a good opportunity to step up … they’ve got some real clear focus areas going into the game.”

The Blues enter off the back of three straight wins and were in dynamite touch last round, thrashing Moana Pasifika 47-8 in one of the most impressive performances of the season.

Acknowledging the difficulty of playing at Eden Park, Cron has called experienced ex-Wallabies lock Sam Carter into the starting side little more than a week after he joined the club following playing stints in Ireland and England.

“He’s only been with us for nine days, but he came off the line defensively, does all the things that tight five players need to do,” he said.

“It’s a combination of his headspace, his experience and what he brings to a team as well as he’s a big tall human, which we don’t have a huge number of.”