Force to feel goosebumps in WSR debut

Justin Chadwick

New Western Force coach Tim Sampson felt goosebumps when he first met the franchise's diehard fans and he knows his players will feel the same rush when they make their World Series Rugby debut at nib Stadium.

The Force appeared dead and buried when Rugby Australia axed them from Super Rugby ranks at the end of 2017.

But the Force have been revived by billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest, who hopes to launch a new competition next year that includes teams from all over Asia.

While those plans get ironed out, the Force will play seven exhibition games this year, with a clash with the Fiji Warriors the first cab off the rank.

More than 13,000 tickets have been sold for Friday's match and Forrest hopes to attract 20,000.

Sampson was appointed coach in February, giving him just two-and-a-half months to get the side into shape for their coming matches.

What stuck with Sampson the most when he first met the Force's fans was the outpouring of relief and emotion that the franchise had been revived.

"It's something which struck me in the first few days I was here," said Sampson, who was the coach of the Canberra Vikings in the NRC before joining the Force.

"I got goosebumps when some of them were telling me their personal stories and what it meant to them after what had unfolded after 2017.

"It's pretty unique. The bonus for us is their energy and positiveness certainly rubs off onto us.

"I think that initial cheer and noise when the players run out on Friday will be something that a lot of these guys have never heard before."

World Series Rugby will feature several rule changes that organisers hope will speed up the game and make it more exciting.

A team will be awarded a seven-point "power try" if the attack starts from within their defensive 22m zone.

For the power try to be awarded, the attacking team can't turn the ball over or commit a penalty during their march to the try line.

In other tweaks, lineouts can be taken as soon as the attacking team want, while a one-minute limit will be set for scrums.

Eight former Force players have been named in the match-day squad but star recruit, World Cup-winning Springbok Jaque Fourie, isn't available after arriving late in Australia because of visa delays.