Western Force skipper Matt Hodgson will have to wait at least one more week before making his Super Rugby return.
Hodgson hasn’t played since tearing his hamstring during a pre-season game, and the Force have decided against rushing him back for Saturday night’s clash with the Cheetahs in Perth.
The 33-year-old has returned to full training and is in line to play in next week’s home clash with the Stormers.
Hodgson’s impending return can’t come soon enough for the Force, who have slumped to 13th spot on the back of a six-match losing run.
“It would be great to have Hodgo back,” fullback Dane Haylett-Petty said on Thursday.
“We know what a great player he is – moreso his leadership and calmness that he brings out on the field when the times get tough.
“We’re definitely missing a bit at the breakdown there – just those tough times last year when he’d come up with an amazing steal and turn the game.
“That’s going to be crucial to us over the next few weeks.”
The Force were unlucky not to come away with a win on their recent tour of South Africa, where they dominated possession against the Bulls and Sharks but failed to land the killer blow.
At 1-6, things look bleak, but Haylett-Petty isn’t giving up hope of the team making a late charge to the finals.
“The positive thing is we’ve got all these home games and we are playing well on the road,” Haylett-Petty said.
“There’s a lot of games we can get wins in, so I think we’re still definitely in the hunt.”
Haylett-Petty broke his foot in the round-one win over the NSW Waratahs, but he’ll return to the starting side this week after making a strong contribution off the bench against the Sharks.
Force: Dane Haylett-Petty, Luke Morahan, Kyle Godwin, Luke Burton, Nick Cummins, Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson, Ben McCalman, Kane Koteka, Steve Mafi, Adam Coleman, Sam Wykes (capt), Tetera Faulkner, Nathan Charles, Pek Cowan. Res: Heath Tessmann, Chris Heiberg, Oliver Hoskins, Angus Cottrell, Chris Alcock, Ian Prior, Zack Holmes, Marcel Brache