Force told to stick to structures against Fijian flair

Justin Chadwick |

Western Force coach Simon Cron (centre) wants his players to embrace the rugby lifestyle in Fiji.
Western Force coach Simon Cron (centre) wants his players to embrace the rugby lifestyle in Fiji.

Western Force coach Simon Cron is urging his players to embrace the rugby lifestyle in Fiji – just don’t try to play like a Fijian team.

The Force notched their first win of the Super Rugby Pacific season last week with an upset 40-31 win over the Reds in Perth.

They will receive another stern test on Sunday when they take on Fijian Drua at Fiji’s Churchill Park.

The Drua are unbeaten at home this season, defeating the Crusaders 20-10 in round three, before recording a pulsating golden-point win over the NSW Waratahs last week.

The entertaining nature of how Drua play makes the rugby beautiful to watch, but Cron doesn’t want his players to get carried away.

“The mistake is trying to play like a Fijian team,” Cron said on Friday from Fiji.

Fijian Drua
Fijian Drua play an entertaining style of rugby that is beautiful to watch. (Joel Carrett/AAP PHOTOS)

“They’re a great offload team, they play a different style of rugby to us. The mistake is you try to play like them.

“For us, it’s about sticking to our structures and processes and how we want to play, and controlling the game that way.”

Force players have been regularly stopped for photos by fans in Fiji this week – a different experience to what they get in the AFL-dominated Perth environment.

“I’d say a lot of them get recognised here (in Fiji), and people stop them on the street quite a lot, or in the cafe or the hotel for photos,” Cron said.

“There’s a massive rugby following over here.

“We’ve got a rugby community in Perth, it’s just probably more spread throughout the state.

“Whereas here, it’s one area. Everyone’s into rugby, every person in the street loves their rugby. It’s more condensed.”

The crowd on Sunday will represent a party-like atmosphere, and Cron wants his players to soak it up.

“I don’t think it’s daunting. I think you should embrace it,” he said.

“It’s a great crowd you want to play in front of. They’re excited, they’re passionate, they’re amazing people.

“And the fact they’re so excited about the game, we should take energy from that too.”

The Force will be without skipper Jeremy Williams (calf) and back-rower Will Harris (concussion).

But former Wallabies lock Sam Carter will make his Force debut off the bench after being signed by the Perth-based franchise during the week.

“With Jeremy Williams and Will Harris both having issues, it was actually a bit faster than we thought that Carter had to be used,” Cron said.

“What he brings is experience, a calm head, a great set piece operator.

“He’s ready to rumble.”