Force taking confidence out of maiden Finals appearance, Trans Tasman

Tue, 16/11/2021, 06:46 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Super Rugby Pacific will be full of action, featuring the best of the Southern Hemisphere

After pushing the Crusaders to their limits in Trans-Tasman, Tim Sampson and the Force have made it clear: they are no longer satisfied by just 'being competitve'

The Force are coming off a historic 2021 season, making the Super Rugby AU finals for the first time before falling to the Brumbies in the Qualifying Final.

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Whilst they were unable to record a win in Trans-Tasman, they were a conversion away from defeating the Chiefs in Round One before narrow losses to the Aotearoa champions and the Blues to finish the season.

Ahead of the return of a combined competition as part of Super Rugby Pacific, Sampson and Force are taking confidence from those performances as they look to replicate last season's efforts.

“We took a lot out of the Trans Tasman competition this year. There were a lot of players and staff that hadn’t travelled to New Zealand, played against those teams so we’ve learnt so much this year,” Sampson told Rugby.com.au. "We now know what to expect when they face those sides.

“There was a moment thereafter the Crusaders game where we had a chat in the changing rooms and acknowledged where we are at the moment and we can’t just be happy with competing against those teams.

“We were a whisker away from toppling a couple of the Kiwis teams and we’ve got to have the belief that we can beat anyone on any day and that’s something we can control.

“I think the guys took a lot of confidence out of this year.”

This reflects the Force's push to build a growing legacy in Western Australia, backed by a strong supporter base and encouraging levels of participation and pathway growth.

Sampson has had a taste of finals football and wants to ensure it's regular heading forward to ensure they build long-term success.

“It’s extremely important. We got a taste of (finals) this year and unfortunately, we didn’t have our best day out against the Brumbies in Canberra during the Qualifying Final,” he conceded.

“The appetite is there to keep getting better and better and in the short term and next season, we want to be in finals football no doubt and be there at the pointy end of the season.

“Long-term, (building success) is super important that we do represent a large rugby community over here. They’ve been a part of the journey here and it’s a great supporter base with really healthy numbers in the junior Rugby and pathways.”

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The Force have arguably received a favourable draw, with Sampson happy to be opening their account against the Rebels before spending the majority of the final rounds playing in front of a passionate HBF Park.

“It’s a pretty decent spread for us,” Sampson believes.

“Straight away your attention goes to first round and to play the Rebels at home is something we will all look forward to.

“I think it’s a pretty good start then we have a bye. To finish with, we have four of our last six at home so that’s where I think it’s a decent spread for us.”

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