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Force employ mind games for tough trip

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 26/05/2014 Justin Chadwick

It will be a case of mind over matter for the Western Force this week as they attempt to knock down another daunting hurdle on their way to the Super Rugby finals.

The Force shot up to fourth on the table following Saturday's 29-19 win over the Lions.

But their hopes of earning a home final will be put to the test on Friday night when they take on the third-placed Crusaders in Christchurch.

The Force have never beaten the Crusaders in Christchurch, with their closest effort coming in 2009 when they fought out a 23-23 draw.

Making matters more difficult for the Force is their recent hectic travel schedule and a six-day turnaround between games.

Friday's game will be the Force's third match in the space of 14 days - with all three games played in different countries.

Hooker Nathan Charles said the Force would try to overcome the physical strain by having a strong mental approach.

"I'm still trying to get over the jet lag and I'm still having irregular sleep at night," Charles said before the team flew out to New Zealand on Monday.

"But all those things aside, the body's a pretty stupid thing. It will do whatever your mind says.

"So if we set ourselves in the right mental state, we should push forward.

"I just tell myself to shut up and do it - that seems to work most of the time."

Charles is on the verge of realising a life-long dream after being selected in the Wallabies' 32-man squad for next month's three-Test series against France.

But with Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau still ahead of him in the pecking order, Charles knows he has his work cut out to win a spot in the Wallabies' match-day squad.

Charles is the only professional athlete playing a contact sport with cystic fibrosis, and he hopes his journey will inspire others living with the chronic illness to reach for their dreams.

"My parents always encouraged me to do absolutely everything," Charles said.

"They said, 'If you want something, you go out and you work your ass off to get it'.

"That's what I've done, and it's a philosophy I've had my whole life and I've never let anything get in my way of achieving the goals I want."

Charles is desperate to taste success at the Force, and he can't wait to test his mettle against the talent-laden Crusaders.

"There's no place on that field where you could target a weakness. They've got threats all over the park," Charles said.

"And Kieran Read's coming back this week. So they've got talent coming out of their ears."

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