Sweet revenge will be on the minds of Western Force players when they take on the Blues in Saturday’s bottom-of-the-table Super Rugby clash in Auckland.
The Force were on track to make the finals last season, but a 40-14 home loss to the Blues played a major role in derailing their top-six hopes.
This year, both teams face a battle just to avoid the Super Rugby wooden spoon.
With six games remaining, the Force sit on bottom of the table on 10 points; one behind both the Blues and Reds.
Force flanker Angus Cottrell said last year’s loss to the Blues would serve as a major spur in the lead-up to this week’s re-match.
“(Assistant coach) Dave Wessels brought us into a meeting during the week and reminded us what happened last year,” Cottrell said.
“We’re going to use that as a bit of an incentive to beat the Blues this weekend.
“That’s the way rugby goes – if someone beats you, you look to bounce back and get on top of them next time you see each other.”
The Force haven’t won since beating the NSW Waratahs in their season opener.
The subsequent nine-match losing run is the equal worst in the Force’s 10-year history, and the team is desperate to snap back to the winners’ list this week.
The Force were plucky against the Chiefs last Friday, scoring three tries in the second half despite losing scrumhalf Ian Prior to a red card in the 29th minute.
Prior’s dangerous tip tackle earned him a three-match ban.
And with regular No.9 Alby Mathewson still sidelined through injury, 25-year-old Justin Turner has flown to New Zealand as back-up to third-stringer Ryan Louwrens.
Lock Adam Coleman (shoulder) and prop Ollie Hoskins (ankle) are in danger of missing this week’s match, while lock Sam Wykes (foot) remains sidelined.
The Blues have been bolstered by the return of captain Jerome Kaino, and fellow All Blacks Charles Piutau and James Parsons.
Cottrell, who badly sprained his left ankle and fractured his fibula in a sickening incident during last year’s loss to the Crusaders, has set his sights on producing a strong finish to the season.
“I wouldn’t say the injury has held me back at all,” Cottrell said.
“Physically and mentally I’m in the same frame of mind,. For me at the moment, it’s about getting on the field and getting as many minutes as I can.”