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Western Force coach Michael Foley pans Super Rugby schedule

Canberra Times logo Canberra Times 25/05/2014 Brad Elborough

Western Force coach Michael Foley has panned the Super Rugby scheduling that will see his side play three games in three different countries within 14 days.

The Force won a club-record eighth game of the 2014 season in beating the Lions 29-19 at nib Stadium in Perth on Saturday night, having lost 24-8 to the Stormers in Cape Town in South Africa the previous Saturday.

They now travel to play the Crusaders in Christchurch on Friday night.

Foley said the schedule put massive pressure on his players, but warned that the cavalry is coming to assist them in their crucial final three games of the season, as they push for an historic first finals campaign.

“We travel from South Africa to Perth, the blokes are under enormous stress to play, they did a great job tonight, and then they are put under further stress by having to fly to New Zealand on Monday on a six-day turnaround,” he said.

“Our guys will front up, because they'll always front up. But the scheduling is not the best.

“The boys have been great because we always do a lot of travel. How you front mentally is really important.

“Because we don't get the same amount of time to prepare physically on the field, we have to be careful there.

“You see Wkysey [lock Sam Wykes] tonight, he's cramping out there. That's fairly indicative at this stage of the season a guy who's fit who's run out 80 minute games consistently - it takes its toll.

“We work together to get the team in the right place by the weekend.”

The Force will be without rookie inside centre Luke Burton for the clash against the Crusaders as he will be representing Australia at the under-20 World Championships in Auckland.

But because Super Rugby takes a three-week break after next weekend due to international schedules, he and several other Force players are expected to be available for selection for the club’s June 28 home fixture against the Blues.

The Force is currently fourth on the Super Rugby table - with four qualifying games remaining - and is expected to be close to full-strength when it returns from the break.

“It most definitely comes at the right time for us,” Foley said of the break.

“We've got the Crusaders game first and I think we'll chase that hard.

“That three-week window first and foremost will give a lot of our guys time to rest. Five of our guys go forward and represent Australia which we are really excited about and we will all live that with them.

“And then we come back and Alby [Mathewson], Luke [Morahan], Junior [Solomoni Rasolea], Hugh [McMeniman] and Marsel [Brache], Kyle [Godwin] will all be fit for that last three game run.

“There are some reinforcements coming and we'll play our hearts out next week, then we'll take the break, then the reinforcements will arrive.”

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