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'I deliberately haven't mentioned it too much this week': Tim Sampson keeping mum ahead of Blues battle

(Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

The Western Force aim to play the role of party poopers on Saturday when they take on the ladder-leading Blues at a venue that shall not be named.


A win for the Blues will almost certainly be enough for them to secure a spot in the Trans-Tasman Super Rugby final, but they may need a bonus point to earn hosting rights.

The Force are winless after four games, but are desperate to go out on a high while also putting a dent in the Blues’ title hopes in the process.

“We touched on that in our little meeting today – they’ve got a lot to play for. If they get the bonus point win it guarantees them a home final,” Force coach Tim Sampson said.

“That’s a hell of a lot to play for for them. We’re going to make it as hard as possible.

“We’ll go and throw the kitchen sink at these guys. The guys know within themselves we’ve got a lot to play for as well, and that’s to finish on a good note.”

The Force have only been blown away in one of the four games against Kiwi opposition – by the Hurricanes – while pushing the Chiefs, Highlanders and Crusaders hard.


Saturday’s match will be played at Eden Park – an iconic venue that has notoriously become a graveyard for visiting foreign teams.

“I deliberately haven’t mentioned it too much this week – where we’re playing,” Sampson said.

“I’m sure you hear a lot about it, how daunting it can be playing at such a venue. That’s why we don’t talk about it too much. We have to treat it like another venue.”


The Melbourne Rebels face an equally daunting task when they take on the Crusaders at Sydney’s Leichhardt Oval on Saturday.

The third-placed Crusaders entered the round just points differential adrift of the second-placed Highlanders, meaning they will be keen to unleash an all-out attack against the Rebels in a bid to qualify for the final.

The NSW Waratahs will be aiming to bank their first win of 2020 when they face off against the Chiefs at Brookvale Oval.

The Waratahs failed to snare victory during Super Rugby AU, and they are long odds to break that losing run against the Chiefs, even though the visitors are without suspended star Damien McKenzie.

Waratahs lock and former Force favourite Sam Wykes, who has been sidelined since suffering a biceps injury against the Reds in round six of Super Rugby AU, announced his retirement from professional rugby on Friday.

“It definitely feels like time, the body just gave way over the last couple of years with some injuries and I wasn’t keen on chasing any more gigs overseas as I’ve got a small young family,” Wykes said.

“It was a short time here at the Waratahs, I’ve spent a lot of it on a bloody wattbike and in the rehab room, but I’m really grateful and appreciative to be back home in NSW.”

– Justin Chadwick


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