Western Force coach Michael Foley is confident his team are on the verge of turning their season around, but he knows they’ll need more than a man in a banana suit to stop the Crusaders on Friday night.
The Force have snared just one win from six Super Rugby matches this season to fall out of the finals picture again.
But they showed enough encouraging signs in last week’s 32-20 loss to defending champions the Highlanders in New Zealand to suggest things are on the improve.
Foley is adamant his players have kept faith in the new attacking game plan, and he hopes they’ll be rewarded with a win against the Crusaders.
But it won’t be an easy task.
The Crusaders have scored 20 tries in their recent four-match winning run, including six in last week’s 43-37 triumph over the Lions in South Africa.
However, Perth has proven to be somewhat of a stumbling block to Super Rugby’s most successful team, who have posted just two wins and a draw from five visits there.
Their last appearance at nib Stadium in 2013 was particularly memorable.
The Crusaders were left fuming after a number of pitch invaders ran onto the ground while the NZ outfit was launching a potentially match-winning attack in the dying minutes.
One invader was dressed in a banana suit, another in his underwear, while a third was painted in Crusaders colours.
Crusaders centre Ryan Crotty tackled the banana man, while assistant coach Dave Hewett took down another.
The Crusaders failed to score after that and lost the match 16-14, with the result putting a dent in their bid to win the New Zealand conference.
Foley said although his side boast a decent record against the Crusaders in Perth, it wouldn’t count for much come Friday night.
“I certainly remember the last time we played them here – we had streakers and all sorts of things, so it was a fairly eventful night,” Foley said.
“But both teams are very different from the teams that played that night.”
Foley is confident his side are on the verge of breaking through for some wins.
“We don’t console ourselves with close losses,” Foley said.
“We are remaining true – trying to keep the ball in hand and do a little bit more with it.
“The guys are believing in how we’re trying to play.
“We’re not hoping for next year, we’re hoping for now.”
Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder has made five changes to his starting side in a bid to keep players fresh, with All Blacks lock Sam Whitelock and halfback Mitchell Drummond among the inclusions.