With an axe hanging over their heads, the Southern Kings and Western Force will have a point to prove in what will be a tense Super Rugby showdown in Perth on Sunday morning (kick-off 8.05am).
Both franchises are under pressure on and off the field and will view this clash as a golden opportunity to get a much-needed W behind their names.
Sanzaar’s long-delay in announcing whether they are going to trim the size of their league next year, has resulted in tensions rising in both the Kings and Force camps.
Western Force coach Dave Wessels has admitted that talk about his team getting the chop is unsettling.
Wessels is, however, confident the situation will galvanise the group.
“It is unsettling,” Wessels said.
“This is our livelihood.
Wessels says the team are excited to be playing back in front of the “Sea of Blue”, and look forward to putting in a good performance against the Kings.
“It’s great to be back at home this week – only the second time in our first six games.
“We learnt some valuable lessons in New Zealand, particularly round our discipline and concentration in big moments.
“We definitely want to put in a performance that will make the people of Western Australia proud.”
The possibility of being axed has been discussed in a Kings team meeting.
“We have just generally talked about it in a team meeting,” Kings head coach Deon Davids said. “The players did not ask questions and we just addressed the general aspect that it is out there. But we did not go into any detail around it. With these things going on there is not much we can do.”
Davids said his team were fully focused on the game against the Force.
“We want to ensure that we rectify the lessons learnt in the previous five games, and that we make much better use of the opportunities that might come our way. We would love to earn some points on this tour.
“The Australian teams bring different challenges, from good set pieces, and creative launches from set pieces.
“We feel we can compete with any other team. We were enemies to ourselves in many situations and will have to improve our standard of execution and attention to detail.”
Southern Kings: Malcolm Jaer, Yaw Penxe, Berton Klaasen, Luzuko Vulindlu, Makazole Mapimpi, Lionel Cronje (captain), Louis Schreuder, Ruaan Lerm, Andisa Ntsila, Chris Cloete, Wilhelm van der Sluys, Irne Herbst, Ross Geldenhuys, Michael Willemse, Schalk van der Merwe. Replacements: Martin Bezuidenhout, Chris Heiberg, Justin Forwood, Mzwanele Zito, Tyler Paul, Johan Steyn, Pieter-Steyn de Wet, Wandile Mjekevu.
Western Force: Dane Haylett-Petty, Chance Peni, Marcel Brache, Billy Meakes, Alex Newsome, Jono Lance, Michael Ruru, Isi Naisarani, Matt Hodgson (captain), Ross Haylett-Petty, Richie Arnold, Matt Philip, Tetera Faulkner, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Daley. Replacements: Heath Tessmann, Pek Cowan, Shambeckler Vui, Richard Hardwick, Ben McCalman, Ian Prior, Luke Burton, Curtis Rona. Referee: Rasta Rasivhenge.