Western Force coach Michael Foley says there’s no point getting caught up in the “emotional vortex” of the wooden spoon ahead of Saturday night’s derby against the Queensland Reds in Perth.
The Force have just three rounds left to get off the bottom of the Super Rugby table, while the Reds are just two points further ahead and also in danger of finishing last.
Foley says he has no problems with his players using the threat of the wooden spoon as motivation this weekend, but he hasn’t actively raised the topic himself.
“I try to avoid that,” Foley said on Friday.
“You can get caught into the emotional vortex of past results and the results we’ve had this year.
“We’re disappointed we haven’t had more wins.
“But to get the best out of yourself on any given weekend, you’ve got to look forward to the game and be excited about it.”
While Foley is contracted beyond this season, Reds coach Richard Graham needs to produce some positive results over the next three weeks if he is to have any chance of earning a new deal.
A committee has been set up to lead an extensive review of Queensland rugby, and Graham could pay the price for his team’s poor on-field results.
The Reds’ hopes of victory against the Force have been bolstered by the return of star five-eighth Quade Cooper, who has spent the past two months on the sidelines because of a fractured shoulder.
Foley rates Cooper as one of the premier five-eights in world rugby, but he doesn’t want the 27-year-old to enjoy his time in Perth.
“At his best, he can be incredible. He’s going to be coming back with a few games to play to really prove a point to be part of that World Cup campaign,” Foley said.
“If we give him time and space early, he’ll build into his game.
“If we can be accurate and disciplined in our defence, there’s a chance we build pressure and make him feel a little less comfortable.
“And discipline is important as anything else.
“There’s no point being frantic there and giving away silly penalties – you just allow them to march down the field.”
Meanwhile, the Force have re-signed scrumhalves Ryan Louwrens and Ian Prior until the end of the 2017 season.
The pair join a strong division of Force No.9s led by former All Black Alby Mathewson, who is contracted to the Perth-based franchise until 2016.
Louwrens only made his Super debut late last month, but he has quickly established himself as the team’s first-choice No.9.
The 24-year-old has scored two tries in four matches, and will again be handed the starting No.9 jersey against the Reds.