Force's new approach to tackle poor starts

·2-min read

The Western Force have avoided focusing on their recent run of horror starts in a bid to overcome the worrying trend in Friday night's clash with the ladder-leading Blues.

The eighth-placed Force (2-6) have handed their opponents a sizeable lead in each of their past three games, all of which resulted in losses.

Two weeks ago, the Force trailed the NSW Waratahs 24-0 after 15 minutes on the way to a 41-24 Super Rugby Pacific defeat.

A week earlier, the Rebels opened up a 13-0 lead after 20 minutes before holding on for a one-point win against the Force.

And the Brumbies led the Force 20-3 after 17 minutes before also securing a one-point victory.

All three of those games were at Perth's HBF Park, and the Force are desperate to avoid another defeat in front of their faithful Sea of Blue on Friday night.

Force captain Feleti Kaitu'u believes the key to addressing the poor starts is by not focusing on it.

"We've tried to address it over those last few weeks and I think I realised that potentially narrowing in our focus on that first 20 minutes and sort of dwelling on it hasn't been serving us well," Kaitu'u said.

"So we've just gone away from that and tried to focus on the basics of the game.

"Ultimately if you do those things well that's the key to starting well."

The Force's scheduled clash against Moana Pasifika in Melbourne last week was postponed after the Perth-based franchise was struck down by a huge COVID-19 wave.

That postponement not only allowed all of the Force players to return from COVID-19 isolation, it has also given their injured stars extra time to recover.

Prop Tom Robertson will play his first match in six weeks after overcoming a calf injury, while Wallabies lock Izack Rodda, hooker Kaitu'u, winger Toni Pulu and centre Bayley Kuenzle also return to the starting line-up.

The Blues (8-1) have been boosted by the return of captain Dalton Papalii, top try-scorer Kurt Eklund, props Ofa Tuungafasi and Alex Hodgman, flanker Akira Ioane, scrumhalf Finlay Christie and winger Caleb Clarke.

"The Blues are obviously a massive threat," Kaitu'u said.

"They've got weapons all across the park especially up front. A big physical forward pack.

"So for us in the positions from one to eight, we're going to have to front up there and not allow them to dictate."

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