Cron calls for Force 'bounceback game' in Super Round

Wed, Feb 28, 2024, 1:45 PM
by Ben Somerford
Western Force head coach Simon Cron spoke to the media ahead of Round 2, where the Force will face the Melbourne Rebels at AAMI Park in Super Round.

Western Force head coach Simon Cron says the focus this week has been eliminating careless errors as the side seeks for a “bounceback game” against the Melbourne Rebels on Friday night.

The Force were beaten 44-14 by the Hurricanes in their season opener at HBF Park last Friday, with Cron pinpointing missed tackles and penalties as the key errors in the wake of the defeat.

Cron’s side returned to the training park on Sunday, with several key focuses before flying out of Perth for Melbourne on Wednesday ahead of Friday’s Super Round clash with the Rebels at AAMI Park from 5:10pm AWST.

“It’s about getting that bounceback game, after a game like that,” Cron told reporters at Perth Airport on Wednesday.

“When you review the game, there were some stages in that game where we did some good stuff.

“The constructive errors are fine, but when it comes to careless, they’re the ones which hurt us in that game, so that’s been our focus this week.”

The Force will spend the next 12 days on the road, remaining on the east coast in the lead-up to the Round 3 clash with the ACT Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday 9 March. Cron said the 12-day trip was good for team cohesion and camaraderie.

“It’s good for us to be together,” he said. “We’ll have coffee groups here at the airport together.

“Spend some time together. Walk through stuff. Just keep working on cohesion.”

The Force will be bolstered by the return of captain Jeremy Williams to the starting XV following head injury protocols from a knock in the pre-season trial game against the Reds which forced him to miss Round 1.

“He’s a great man,” Cron said. “It’s great to have him back. He’s had a few weeks away and today he trained brilliantly, he was really good on-field.

“It just adds a little bit to our team, someone who’s been with us all pre-season.”

Williams will slot into the second row, but fellow lock Izack Rodda (quad) remains unavailable with Cron stating he’d be sidelined for the “short term”.

“Unfortunately for us Izack will be out for the short term,” Cron said. “He’s going through that process of returning to the game. It’s hard on him and hard on the team.

“We’ve just got to take it one week at a time with Izack and make sure he’s getting better each week.”

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Joondalup Brothers product Marley Pearce’s four-game suspension for a dangerous tackle, means the Force have drafted in Ryan Coxon at loosehead prop.

The 26-year-old former Chiefs and Crusaders prop has been training with the Force for the past few weeks, but Cron admitted he’d got his chance sooner than he’d expected.

“With Harry Hoopert and (Angus) Wagner out, we’ve got three down at the moment,” Cron said. “You’ve always got to be smart as coaches and be tracking number four and five.

“With Ryan coming in, we knew about him, we were watching him, we just didn’t think we were going to have to pull him in this quickly.

“We looked around everywhere and he was probably the most suited to getting Super Rugby at this stage right now.”

The Force have adopted some new strategies to remedy last season’s away struggles this year, around the time difference and managing contact times with family and friends on the road.

“They’ll be in practice now and I think that’ll be a big change,” Cron said.

“It’s about the boys staying closer to Perth time, rather than jumping into east coast time straight away. Being smarter.”

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