Sport

'I don't think we're good enough to win Super Rugby'

Peter Grant of the Western Force takes a kick.
Peter Grant of the Western Force takes a kick. Dianne Manson

RUGBY UNION: The Western Force has four of its final five matches of the Super Rugby season at home and has a chance of making the playoffs if it tops the Australian conference.

But coach Dave Wessels has a more realistic view on the Force's chances as the team prepares to take on the in-form Highlanders in Perth on Saturday night.

Despite his young team becoming the first Australian Super Rugby team to win in Argentina last week when they produced a shock 16-6 triumph over the Jaguares, the Force coach is not getting carried away.

"It would be fantastic to make the playoffs," Wessels said.

"But as I've said all along, I don't think we're good enough to win Super Rugby at this point.

"We're on a journey with a very young team, and we're just trying to get better every week.

"If that means a playoff spot, that's great. But that's not what we're measuring ourselves on."

The Highlanders are the in-form team in the competition having not lost in their past seven matches ahead of the game at nib Stadium.

Wessels will still be without Matt Hodgson (ankle), Ben McCalman (shoulder) and Dane Haylett-Petty (hamstring) but will have former Springbok Peter Grant in the side this week to bring some much-needed experience.

Wessels is confident Grant, a veteran of 122 Super Rugby matches, will play a pivotal role after impressing at fullback against the Jaguares.

"He can play in the toughest situations and his heartbeat wouldn't get over 50. He's that sort of guy," he said.

"Off the field 'Bash' has really come alive for us in the last couple of weeks.

"He's brought a lot of energy to the group with his experience.

"He's one of the coolest, calmest guys you'll ever meet. I've got a lot of confidence in him at 10."

Australian teams are an astonishing 0-17 against New Zealand sides in the Super Rugby competition this season.

Meanwhile, the Brumbies will welcome back Chris Alcock as they take on the Kings in South Africa.

Alcock has had a niggling injury but will come back into the 23 alongside Tom Banks, who has returned to the fullback spot.

Aidan Toua will move to the wing in place of James Dargaville, who did not travel with the team.

"Aidan's got tremendous experience, he's a very good communicator on the field and he'll give us good direction from that left wing," coach Stephen Larkham said.

"Banksy has performed well when he's played fullback, so I want to give him another opportunity there."

Topics:  dave wessels super rugby western force

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