Force players pushing for Wallabies spots
May 11, 2014
Kyle Godwin is just one Force player pushing a case for Wallabies selection © Getty Images
Coach Michael Foley says many of his largely unheralded Western Force team are sending a clear message to the Wallabies selectors as they move closer to a maiden Super Rugby finals berth.
The Force moved to fourth place on the ladder and second in the Australian conference when they ground out a gutsy 23-16 win over the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein on Sunday (AEST), despite subsisting on a meagre 34 per cent possession.
They defended heroically for long periods, but still scored two tries to one as fullback Jayden Hayward and winger Nick Cummins crossed from deadly counter-attacks deep in their own territory. The Perth-based franchise's seventh win of the season from 10 games took them above the fancied New South Wales Waratahs and they are just three points behind the pace-setting Brumbies in the Australian conference with a game in hand.
Foley said his players had earned greater consideration from the national selectors when they choose their squad before the three-Test series against France starting in less than a month. Force players in Wallabies colours have been scarce over several lean seasons. Cummins was the only Force player in the match squad for the most recent Test against Wales in Cardiff and backrower Ben McCalman was the only other player in the Spring Tour squad. Prop Pek Cowan and captain Matt Hodgson are the other Force players from the Bloemfontein game to have played for Australia.
Foley didn't name names but some of his emerging players who might attract the attention are lock Adam Coleman, flanker Angus Cottrell, centre Kyle Godwin and hooker Nathan Charles.
"I think a lot of our players are putting their hands up," Foley said. "There are a number of players in our forwards that I think have shown good ability outside the core skills. Some of our tight five are defending like back rowers. I think some of our back rowers are coming up with amazing plays and I think there are a couple of backs that could also put their hands up there. Our guys don't talk about that but I'm sure it's in the back of their mind. Everybody would love to play for their country. But I do think it's starting to get to the point where I think definitely the international selectors need to consider these guys."
The two tries apart, the Force's other 13 points came from former Cheetahs fly-half and Bloemfontein product Sias Ebersohn.
"I think he's been playing superbly well this year, much better than last year and I think he'll keep getting better," Foley said.
With their scrum dominating, the Force bolted to a 16-6 half-time lead. The Cheetahs got to within three points early in the second half following their only try to No.8 Boom Prinsloo, which came shortly after Hodgson was sin-binned for a breakdown infringement.
Hodgson downplayed talk about the Force's prospects of topping the Australian conference.
'We've got a goal for the next four-game block so we're just focusing on that and also the Stormers (next weekend)," Hodgson said.