The West

Mathewson in the mix for Force against Crusaders
Alby Mathewson. Pic: WA News

Scrum-half Alby Mathewson has travelled to New Zealand with the Western Force squad preparing for Friday's Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders in Christchurch.

Coach Michael Foley has also included his two other No.9s, Ian Prior and Justin Turner, and will not risk former All Black Mathewson, who is returning from a serious knee injury, unless he is fully fit.

Crusaders coach Todd Blackadder will have 2013 international player of the year, captain and No.8 Kieran Read returning after five weeks on the sidelines with concussion and illness.

Blackadder will bring in more heavy guns, his international front row of Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn and Owen Franks, who were on the bench in the win over the Highlanders after returning from an All Blacks camp.

The Force have never beaten the third-placed Crusaders in New Zealand and both sides will need to be mentally switched on for the game that could cement the winner into a finals spot before the three-week Test break.

"That is the challenge. If we take them lightly or if the boys have their heads on the Test match the following week then we will be back down where we were," Blackadder said.

The Force will have to cope with jet lag and irregular sleep patterns after flying in from South Africa a week ago, but Nathan Charles has a solution.

"I just tell myself to shut up and do it, that seems to work most of the time," he said. "The body's a pretty stupid thing. It will do whatever your mind says."

The West Australian

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