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Western Force dealing with outbreak ahead of Waratahs game

By AAP
(Photos / Getty Images)

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The Western Force will be aiming to overcome a COVID-19 disruption and the heartbreak of their two most recent losses when they take on the NSW Waratahs in Perth on Saturday night.

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Force coach Tim Sampson, Wallabies enforcer Izack Rodda, and scrumhalf Issak Fines-Leleiwasa are all isolating and will miss the match against NSW after being deemed close contacts.

The Perth-based franchise are in desperate need of a win after their one-point losses to the Melbourne Rebels and Brumbies left them clinging to eighth spot with a 2-5 record.

Given the Force’s hardest part of the fixture lays ahead of them, a win is a must against the Waratahs.

NSW (4-3) moved up to fifth spot following their 38-14 win over Fijian Drua before the bye.

The Waratahs have been bolstered by the return of captain Jake Gordon from a hamstring injury, while Michael Hooper is in the starting side for the first time this season after making an appearance via the bench against the Drua.< /p>

The Force’s poor starts against the Rebels and Brumbies proved costly.

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The Brumbies led 20-3 after 17 minutes, while the Rebels opened up a 13-0 lead after 20 minutes before the Force kicked into gear.

Force forward Brynard Stander said there had been a focus on fixing the poor starts.

“It’s obviously been really narrow, the margins,” Stander said.

“It’s important we stay together as a group regardless of the results.

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“The Tahs are a quality side. They’ve shown that in the last four or five weeks.

“But we’ve also shown we’re a quality side. Tomorrow night’s difference is going to be who wants it more. I think there’s a lot of fire in our bellies at the moment.”

Force vice-captain Kyle Godwin will notch his 100th Super Rugby appearance when he steps out against the Waratahs.

Stander wants to mark the occasion with a victory.

“Being able to share the field tomorrow night with a club legend Kyle in his 10 0th is going to be cool,” Stander said.

“W e all want to get behind him and hopefully get the best result possible, not just for Kyle, but also the club.”

Force attack coach Mark Ozich will take charge in Sampson’s absence, while captain Feleti Kaitu’u and winger Toni Pulu have been named to return to the starting line-up.

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