The Roar
The Roar


Force cop fresh blows after Rodda's latest setback and Pearce's ban, Rebels open up on 'deflating' start

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27th February, 2024
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The Western Force’s chances of atoning for last year’s embarrassment at Super Round have copped a fresh blow, with Izack Rodda expected to miss up to half the season and loose-head prop Marley Pearce suspended for four Super Rugby matches.

New skipper Jeremy Williams is also expected to miss Friday night’s clash against the Rebels, with the second-rower still battling concussion symptoms.

All three setbacks are crushing blows for the Force, with their tight-five well-beaten by the Hurricanes last weekend.

After being plagued by a foot injury over the past two years, Rodda was named in the Force’s starting side but was a late withdrawal following his quad injury.

Now it seems Rodda, who started at the 2019 World Cup for the Wallabies, will miss up to six weeks with the injury, The Roar understands.


Izack Rodda is expected to miss up to six weeks with a quad injury. (Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

Williams, who was named as the Force’s new captain less than a fortnight ago, is also being plagued by concussion symptoms from a knock he suffered in their opening trial of the year against the Force.

The latest setback is the loss of rising prop Pearce.

The loose-head collected Jordie Barrett’s head in the 52nd minute, as the inside centre stepped back off his left foot and was met by Pearce, who failed to drop his body height.

While Pearce, 20, was initially only shown a yellow card he was later cited, with the Foul Play Review Committee deeming the dangerous tackle met the red card threshold.

“Following the World Rugby Head Contact Process, the FPRC assessed the Player’s actions as including direct head contact, at high speed, in dynamic play with the player leading with his head and colliding with a high degree of force, and his body position moving up and forward into the collision,” Stephen Hardy said. 

“There was no mitigation identified sufficient to downgrade the offence below a red card.”


“The entry point for the offence was 6 weeks (as it was assessed as mid-range in line with World Rugby’s mandate).  The player was given a discount for an early guilty plea reducing the suspension from 6 weeks to 4 weeks.  The player is therefore suspended up to and including 23 March 2024.”

Marley Pearce will miss the Force’s next four Super Rugby games after his round-one suspension. (Photo by James Worsfold/Getty Images)

Pearce will miss the Force’s next four fixtures against the Rebels, Brumbies, Moana Pasifika and the Reds.

Rubbing salt into the wound, he also copped a broken nose from the incident.

Already missing Harry Hoopert and Angus Wagner, Simon Cron has few options up his sleeve to cover Pearce’s loss ahead of their important encounter with the Rebels in Melbourne.

The most likely scenario will see former All Blacks prop Atu Moli, who played under Steve Hansen at the 2019 World Cup, return to the side after missing selection last week.

Moli had an injury-riddled few years at the Chiefs following the World Cup, which saw him slip down the pecking order at last year’s minor premiers and paved the way for him to join the Force.


Taniela Tupou will target the Force’s scrum. (Photo by Asanka Ratnayake/Getty Images)

But some less than convincing form, including a yellow card during their trial against the Reds, saw Cron back the Force’s next generation last week in their season-opening 44-14 loss to the Hurricanes.

But with the Rebels’ tight-five one of their strengths, and Taniela Tupou expected to come into the starting side to inject some forward dominance from the outset, Cron will have to work his magic to ensure his Force side stands a chance in what shapes as a season-defining match.

The Rebels haven’t beaten around the bush following their false start against the Brumbies, as they copped a 30-3 hiding.

Despite having 17 entries into the Brumbies’ 22 metre zone, the Rebels managed to come away with just a penalty after repeatedly fluffing their lines, botching lineouts and scrums, and brain explosions like the one that saw Rob Leota denied a try after a teammate pulled Tom Hooper’s jersey and denied the flanker a chance of making a tackle.

Unsurprisingly, attack coach Tim Sampson was filthy with the first-up showing.

“After the build-up through the pre-season into round one, first home game, it was pretty deflating,” Sampson told AAP.


“How we performed it was well below our expectations and it was across the board in every area of the game.

“We were very average with a lot of mistakes and poor decision-making.”

Sampson, who previously coached the Force, said he was expecting their opponents to charge out of the blocks following their slow start to the season.

“Coming on their home pitch where they pride themselves on winning, they were quite successful there last year winning five of the six games at home,” he said.

“They will be looking to rebound as well as they’re in a very similar situation to us and I’m sure they’ve circled this game, putting it in their calendar a while ago.”

The Rebels are expected to name Matt Proctor in the midfield, after the one-Test All Black didn’t feature last week.