Sharpe urges patience
Sharpe urges patience

Western Force foundation captain Nathan Sharpe has called for calm and patience and says coach Michael Foley should be supported despite opening the season with two heavy losses.

Sharpe who retired in 2012 after 92 appearances in seven seasons for the Force - 78 of them as captain - said the side deserved the benefit of the doubt at this stage of its campaign.

"It is far too early to start writing them off," Sharpe said.

"I know some people are doing that but you can't possibly write them off.

"They have to keep faith in Michael Foley. It has only been two games and they have started against two particularly good sides. Those first games were a difficult ask.

"The Waratahs were lethal and are one of the best sides in the competition. The Brumbies were last year's finalists and were very clinical.

"You have to look at the pedigrees of those sides while the Force is a fairly new team that's being put together with a lot of guys finding their feet in Super Rugby. Nobody would have expected them to win the competition this year, but it is not such a big corner to turn to get a win."

The Force must hit the ground running if they are to open their account in today's clash with the Melbourne Rebels at nib Stadium. They desperately need a good start in captain Matt Hodgson's 100th appearance, having leaked early tries in their first two matches.

"They have to come out firing," Sharpe said. "They can do it, but they have got to work at the breakdown and getting the ball out of their own half is critical.

"They can't fall into the trap of relying on second-half recoveries and it would be nice to see them start today's game the way they finished against the Brumbies.

"I'm sure all the guys will want to do it for Hodgo. They have all seen how much he puts into the club and what it means to him."

Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry said Foley and his coaching staff had the full support of the club's management.

The former Wallabies assistant and one-time Waratahs mentor is in the second year of a three- season agreement.

Foley said his players needed to make a statement early.

"It's about getting off to that good start," he said.

"Last year we seemed to be having some success in that area.

"This year we're fighting back but it's no good fighting for the first three rounds with your hands down and let people slug at you. We've got to throw some punches in that period as well."

The Force have identified scrum-half Luke Burgess as a danger.

"Burgess plays a high-running game. He's a threat there," Foley said.

"With him working with the forwards that's how they get their momentum."

The West Australian

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