Dave Wessels happy to see Force thriving

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    Melbourne Rebels coach Dave Wessels hopes the Western Force will continue to thrive in World Series Rugby, but there’s no place he’d rather be than in Super Rugby.

    Wessels coached the Force last season, but jumped ship to the Rebels once the Perth-based franchise was controversially axed by Rugby Australia.

    Billionaire mining magnate Andrew Forrest launched WSR after the Force’s axing, and the breakaway competition has attracted huge crowds in the opening two games.

    The Force will lock horns with the Rebels at nib Stadium on Saturday night in what is being billed as a grudge match of sorts.

    Wessels fell in love with the Force during his time there and the franchise will always hold a special place in his heart.

    The second-year coach hopes WSR, which will expand to a proper competition format next year, will grow even bigger.

    But he is more than happy to be in Super Rugby ranks.

    “Super Rugby certainly faces its challenges, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it’s the premier domestic competition in the world,” Wessels said.

    “If you’re not playing NZ teams in NZ, I find it very difficult to argue that competition is the best in the world.

    “For me, one of the reasons why I wanted to stay in Super Rugby was to test yourself as a coach.

    “You want to coach against the best players in the world. At the moment, that’s certainly still happening in Super Rugby.”

    Wessels will coach Saturday’s match with mixed emotions and he wants to use the opportunity to thank the Force’s fans.

    “In that last (ever Force) game we played the Waratahs and Matt Hodgson kicked that goal with the last kick of the game, and then we went on leave,” Wessels said.

    “When the decision came through about the team (being axed), we were all away from each other.

    “So we haven’t really had the opportunity to know that we were playing our last game at nib Stadium, to say our thank yous to everybody.

    “So in a lot of ways, this provides that opportunity, which will be pretty special.”

    Wessels has named six former Force players in his starting side and another two on the bench.

    The Rebels currently sit second in the Australian conference after winning seven of their first 13 games.

    Wessels has been keeping a close eye on WSR and has been blown away by how successful it has been to date.

    “Hopefully World Series Rugby goes from strength to strength and we’re hoping our involvement in some way helps that,” he said.

    © AAP 2018
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    The Crowd Says (15)

    • Roar Rookie

      June 8th 2018 @ 1:36pm
      piru said | June 8th 2018 @ 1:36pm | ! Report

      Wessels coached the Force last season, but jumped ship to the Rebels once the Perth-based franchise was controversially axed by Rugby Australia.

      More accurately, the ship was torpedoed and he was picked up by an enemy vessel.

      joking – calm down

      The game isn’t being billed as a grudge match, they are trying their absolute hardest to avoid that.

      But it will be I think.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 3:59pm
        MitchO said | June 8th 2018 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

        For mine it is only a grudge match in the sense that the Force guys will be keen to beat any Australian Super Rugby team.

        • Roar Guru

          June 8th 2018 @ 7:12pm
          Timbo (L) said | June 8th 2018 @ 7:12pm | ! Report

          Much like the Tahs win against the Hurricanes, it won’t be against a full strength opposition.

          The Rebs will be under staffed, many of their players will be in the stands at Suncorp stadium wearing their suits or on the field preparing to get blamed for the loss.

          • June 9th 2018 @ 4:51pm
            Dontcallmeshirley said | June 9th 2018 @ 4:51pm | ! Report

            What Tah’s win over the Hurricanes?

          • Roar Pro

            June 10th 2018 @ 1:47pm
            Crazy Horse said | June 10th 2018 @ 1:47pm | ! Report

            The Force were understaffed. Many of their players were on the field wearing Rebels jerseys.

          • June 10th 2018 @ 2:41pm
            ScottD said | June 10th 2018 @ 2:41pm | ! Report

            The Force were without a couple of their players who were also on international duties so on that basis it was an even match.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2018 @ 7:15pm
        Timbo (L) said | June 8th 2018 @ 7:15pm | ! Report

        I think pre and post match they will be best buds, but when that whistle blows, both sides will leave it all out there on the paddock.
        Force stalwarts were/are the ones harboring resentment for the rebels.

        I got the distinct impression that the players were brothers in arms.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 3:05pm
      Damo said | June 8th 2018 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

      I think it’s clear that the players/coaches do not hold any grudges against each other for any decisions individuals made post the Force axing. Some people may try to bill it as grudge match but that is more about the Force vs RU rather than directly between the Force and the Rebels.

      • Roar Guru

        June 8th 2018 @ 4:39pm
        El Gamba said | June 8th 2018 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        I know some parochial Force fans that hold a grudge against the Rebels because they were clearly less deserving to be retained, and the grudge continues to being against some of the players. I think that most reasonable people understand that it wasn’t the Rebels fault that RA ran such a flawed process. Similarly, who can blame Dave, his coaching staff and the players that went to the Rebels? They are professionals who have to continue their career.

        If I was a Rebels fan, I’d probably be a little sheepish that my team survived but happy nevertheless.

        I’m a die hard Force fan, member first year, only missed their first ever try because of the ridiculous lines at Subiaco stadium when it was my round. Remember the wrongly disallowed try against the Crusaders which cost us the win in the first year to eventuate in a draw. Was up at whatever time o’clock to watch them win their first game against the Cheetahs in Bloemfontein. All that said I now have a soft spot for the Rebels because of the Force boys there. Am also keen on guys like Curtis Rona. Once a Force man, always a Force man.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 5:55pm
      andrewM said | June 8th 2018 @ 5:55pm | ! Report

      It won’t be a grudge match against the Rebels team nor coach, but it will certainly be a big finger up to the ARU and the VRU. Best way to do that is in front of 20,000 fans which is not unrealistic if you look at ticketmaster.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 5:58pm
      sittingbison said | June 8th 2018 @ 5:58pm | ! Report

      yup. only dolt journos over east are billing this as a grudge match. Most supporters want to see the Rebel Force players and Wessels. And its not the Rebels per se that causes angst, its the lies, deception and countless millions money drain associated with them – all coming out of corporate HQ

      Anyhow, its looking like 40mm rain and howling wind tomorrow night after the longest and calmest autumn ever sigh

    • June 8th 2018 @ 7:54pm
      jack said | June 8th 2018 @ 7:54pm | ! Report

      Definitely not a grudge game. The players and coaches played the hand they were dealt when the Force were axed. Loads of examples in rugby of brothers or cousins playing in opposite teams and its never a grudge match, just a competitive match. That’s what we all want. Rebels had played against a New Zealand team in this window before, so it’s good to see them continuing to play during the test break . In a way, the WSR can’t exist if invitationals dont accept, so well done to Rebels for agreeing to play and all the best to both teams.

      • June 8th 2018 @ 11:23pm
        Ex force fan said | June 8th 2018 @ 11:23pm | ! Report

        I win for me will be the Rebels enjoying the game so much that will want to come back next year. Lets support both sides, one representing the future and the other the past of the Force. Our rage is directed to Clyne and the ARU.

    • June 8th 2018 @ 10:57pm
      Ex force fan said | June 8th 2018 @ 10:57pm | ! Report

      Looking forward to the game with Force supporters cheering for both sides like we did for Fiji and Tonga. It is a game to celebrate the Force past and present. Unfortunately cold, wet and windy weather is forecasted and game is starting very late so I do not expect a packed stadium. It is not family weather. I am glad to see ex Force players doing everything they can to play in ths game, I hope we can give them something they missed. A Sea of Blue sharing our love for the game. Rugby will win if the Rebels players ask to play the Force again next year, that is all I am looking for, I do not even care for a win.

      We win everytime Clyne and his Board are reminded of their 2017 mistake (injutice never low over) and the Force’s path independent of Rugby Australia become clearer.

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