Western Force legend Pek Cowan says he’s gutted he can’t be present for the franchise’s Super Rugby rebirth this Saturday, and he’s not sure whether he will be ready to play next week either.

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Cowan’s delay in being able to leave Japan means he will be in quarantine in Sydney until mid next week, forcing him to miss Saturday’s clash with the Waratahs at the SCG.

The 34-year-old’s experience and toughness will be a vital asset to a youth-laden Force outfit.

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But Cowan is also acutely aware it will take him time to get up to speed with the squad, meaning he could opt out of next week’s encounter with the Queensland Reds as well.

“If I can’t do the jumper justice, I’m not going to put myself out there,” Cowan said.

“There’s guys who have been here for the last few years, and I think I would be doing the jumper an injustice if I wasn’t completely across how we want to play, what every call is.

“I’m only here to play consistently well for the Force, and I’d hate to go one week early just to try and play and not play well and not perform.

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“I’m gutted that I can’t be there with the team this Saturday to offer support, but I wasn’t able to get out of Japan fast enough.”

Cowan was just 18 years old when he joined the Force’s foundation squad in 2006.

The 10-Test Wallaby notched 130 appearance in the blue and black before leaving the franchise in 2017 when they were axed from Super Rugby.

Cowan declared at the time that he would never play for a rival Australian franchise, and he struck true to his word by moving to Japan to continue his career.

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The veteran prop jumped at the chance to rejoin the Force for the upcoming Super Rugby AU competition after receiving special permission from his Japanese club Shimizu Blue Sharks.

“As soon as I heard that the team would be put into this new Super Rugby competition I got really excited,” Cowan said.

“Not for me personally thinking I’d get an opportunity to play in it, but more for the team being able to represent Perth and having a national rugby competition to play in.

“I was approached by another Super Rugby franchise before I left the Force in 2017, but I was pretty adamant that I wouldn’t play for another Australian team.”

Cowan doesn’t think he will have access to the Force’s game against the Waratahs on his TV while in quarantine, but he will watch the clash online to make sure he doesn’t miss a minute of the action.

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