Force brace for double points fight against Fijian Drua
Western Force captain Michael Wells has declared the play-offs have now begun for his team, and he's gearing up for a "double points" showdown against Fijian Drua at HBF Park.
A two-match losing streak on the road has left the Force (3-7) languishing in 11th spot with just four matches remaining.
The top eight teams make the finals, and Fijian Drua (4-6) sit four points ahead of the Force in eighth place.
A Force win on Friday night would breathe life into their finals bid, but a loss could prove terminal.
The Force round out their season with games against the second-placed Brumbies (home), ninth-placed Melbourne Rebels (away), and ladder-leading Chiefs (home).
"Essentially this counts as double points," Wells said ahead of the match against the Drua.
"If we win, we take four, hopefully five points away. If they win, they jump further ahead.
"So it's about taking points from them and putting points on our tally.
"But in saying that, every game is important now. We've got a four-run sort of play-off stretch before finals, so we need to do a job every game.
"Everything is a must-win game now."
The Force, who have been bolstered by the return of Wallabies duo Tom Robertson and Folau Fainga'a from injury, are a perfect three wins from three outings at home this season.
Wells said it will be important to stifle the high-octane game style of Fijian Drua, who posted an upset 27-24 win over the fifth-placed Hurricanes last week.
"(We need to) play a very structured sort of game, to not allow the free-flowing energetic and emotional energy sort of game that they will bring," Wells said.
"We will try to control the tempo, control the speed and manage the game as best as we can."
The Force were given a big emotional boost this week when it was announced Wallabies halfback Nic White will be joining the side on a two-year deal from next season.
Force halfback Issak Fines-Leleiwasa spent a season with White at the Brumbies, and welcomed the news of the 32-year-old's signing.
Fines-Leleiwasa has become the go-to halfback option at the Force in recent weeks, but he faces a fight to usurp White next season.
"I think you've got to accept it and just roll with the punches I guess," he said.
"Competition is great, not only for both of us, but also for the team. It's going to make us a better team.
"For me, it's only going to make me a better player."