The West

Crusaders big ask for the Force
Richie McCaw (L) and Luke Whitelock of the Crusaders. Pic: Getty Images

If there are any doubts about the size of the task facing the Western Force in today's Super Rugby clash with the Crusaders, a check of the club's honour boards will erase them.

They show the Force will line up with only three Wallabies - Nick Cummins, Matt Hodgson and Pek Cowan. Between them they have played 23 times for Australia.

The Crusaders have 13 All Blacks with 425 appearances. World Cup-winning captain Richie McCaw leads the way on 124.

As if that was not enough, coach Todd Blackadder has an all-All Blacks front row of Wyatt Crockett, Corey Flynn and Owen Franks.

In contrast Force coach Michael Foley, with a third of his squad unavailable, has five players from his wider training group - Adam Coleman, Francois van Wyk, Ryan Hodson, Dillyn Leyds and Justin Turner - on his bench. Starting flanker Brynard Stander is also from the same group.

But Foley is not looking for excuses.

"We've had limited opportunities in preparation," he said.

"Attitude matters a hell of a lot. It is a challenge but we're good to go. These guys believe in each other, there is a trust there.

"Some of the things we have achieved this season have come down to that.

"We are playing the side that has been the benchmark in the competition over a number of years."

- More than $31,000 was raised for the McGrath Breast Care Nurses campaign by Force supporters and players who wore pink socks for the fundraiser against the Lions last Saturday.

FIXTURES - Today: Crusaders v Western Force, Reds v Highlanders. Tomorrow: Chiefs v Waratahs, Blues v Hurricanes, Brumbies v Rebels, Lions v Bulls, Sharks v Stormers

The West Australian

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