'This week is do or die': Wallabies number 8 looking to keep season alive while Waratahs try to avoid winless season
Isi Naisarani isn’t ready for his Super Rugby AU season to be over and vowed to do all he can to see Melbourne into the finals with a win over the Waratahs on Saturday night.
If the Force win they will secure the remaining play-off position and it’s season over for Melbourne, putting additional pressure on coach Dave Wessels.
Wallabies No.8 Naisarani has been named in the starting side after making his return from off-season knee surgery last week via the bench, with Brad Wilkin also a new face in the back-row.
Ross Haylett-Petty will replace suspended lock Trevor Hosea.
Skipper Dane Haylett-Petty has fallen short in his comeback quest at after ongoing concussion issues.
Naisarani said he was excited to be back in the starting side after a frustrating 12 months, also suffering a serious hamstring injury last year.
“This week is do or die for us against the Waratahs,” the 26-year-old told AAP.
“For myself, I need to give everything and be physically present with big carries and tackling.
“I had to earn the right to be in the team and have been given the chance to start so I will do everything I can because we need a win to play finals.”
Off-contract Naisarani said he was still mulling his future, but was focused on playing and leaving contracts with his manager.
The Waratahs have named the same starting 15 that fell achingly short last round against the Force, with Ben Donaldson again donning the No.10 jersey.
The NSW outfit are looking to avoid their first-ever winless Super season.
Reds coach Brad Thorn said both teams had plenty to play for as they tune-up for next month’s grand final, which they will host.
Force coach Tim Sampson has made three changes for the crucial match, with Irish veteran Rob Kearney returning at fullback after an adductor injury.
Sampson and his side were confident of securing their third consecutive win and first Super Rugby AU finals berth.
“I think the squad is oozing confidence after showing great character with how we’ve won those last two games,” Sampson said.