Super Rugby
Force not scared of big Bulls pack
April 23, 2014
Kieran Longbottom will be the first born and bred West Australian player to progress through the state's local pathways and will earn his 50th cap against the Bulls © Western Force / Facebook

Western Force prop Kieran Longbottom knows he and his fellow heavyweights can't afford another "off week" when they confront the Bulls in Saturday night's Super Rugby clash in Perth. The Force's scrum was dismantled in last week's 22-16 loss to the Melbourne Rebels, with the result ending the Perth-based franchise's five-game winning streak.

Although Longbottom expressed his disappointed with the scrum performance, he isn't panicking just yet. South African teams are renowned for their powerful scrums, but Longbottom is confident the Force will be able to match the Bulls in this area.

"They're a big pack with big boys. They've always been that way," Longbottom said of the Bulls. "But we've just got to meet that challenge and front up physically. I'm going to put it down to an off week [against the Rebels]. It's nothing we can't fix in a week. All we've got to do is pull tight as an eight and work harder together."

The Force are set to be bolstered by the return of lock Sam Wykes and fullback Jayden Hayward, but winger Luke Morahan (hamstring) and scrum-half Alby Mathewson (ankle) are amongst a host of players still grounded by injury. The Bulls will be without scrum-half Piet van Zyl (knee), while skipper Flip van der Merwe could also miss the Force clash after being charged with striking Waratahs prop Paddy Ryan in last week's 19-12 loss in Sydney.

The Force (5-3) sit in fifth spot on the table, but Longbottom said there was still plenty of hard work ahead if the team is to earn a maiden finals berth.

"We want to be the best Force team that come through here," Longbottom said. "If that ends up being in finals, that's spectacular. But we've just got to keep working and focus on the job ahead."

Longbottom, the first born and bred West Australian to progress through the state's local pathway and into the Force team, will notch his 50th Super cap when he fronts up against the Bulls. The 28-year-old said he was enjoying his rugby journey, and predicted a host of West Australian players would make their way into Super ranks over the coming years.


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