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Brisbane Tens: Western Force ready for tough task in inaugural short-format rugby event
By Kearyn Cox
Posted 49 minutes ago
Matt Hodgson celebrates after scoring a try for Western Force against the Blues in Super Rugby.
PHOTO: Western Force have chosen a mix of youth and experience in their squad for the first-ever Brisbane Tens event. (AAP: Richard Wainwright)
MAP: Brisbane 4000
Australians know all about sevens rugby, but this weekend they will be introduced to a different format with the inaugural running of the Global Rugby Tens in Brisbane.
More than $1.6 million in prize money will be on the line on Saturday and Sunday at Lang Park, as sides from around the world take part in the new event.
Sanctioned by Australian Rugby Union and New Zealand Rugby Union, the inaugural competition will feature 14 teams from six different countries.
Teams will compete in 28 matches over the two-day period in a 10-players-per-side, 10-minutes-per-half knockout tournament.
The teams are separated into four groups and the top two teams from each group progress to the knockout stages.
Brisbane Tens groups
Group A: Melbourne Rebels (AUS), Chiefs (NZ), Waratahs (AUS) and Panasonic Wild Knights (JAP)
Group B: Blues (NZ), Crusaders (NZ), Reds (AUS), Samoa
Group C: Bulls (SA), Brumbies (AUS), Highlanders (NZ)
Group D: Western Force (AUS), Hurricanes (NZ), Toulon (FRA)
One of the teams competing is the Western Force, who will be desperate for a successful Tens campaign in Brisbane after finishing the 15-man Super Rugby competition at the bottom of the ladder, having only won two games in 2016.
The Force are no strangers to the 10-a-side game. In fact, they are the current World Club 10s champions.
A rough Super Rugby season was unable to stop the Force, who were able to take home the Club World 10s trophy after a strong display in Mauritius last year.
The Force have been dealt no favours for this upcoming competition and will be up against the reigning Super Rugby champions in the Hurricanes, South Africa's Bulls as well as French power-house, Toulon.
They will also be without their head coach Dave Wessels for the tournament, as the club has opted to for skills coach Kevin Boote to take over the reins for the two-day competition.
"There is a lot of excitement in the camp at the moment, and we want to go out and represent Western Australia and show the people how hard we have worked in the pre-season," Boote said.
New rules for the quicker format:
Ten players per team on the field
Ten minute halves. Five minute half time.
All conversion attempts must be drop kicked- similar to 7s
Yellow Cards net a 3-minute suspension - could be a game changer
Rolling substitutes, 10 on the field, 8 substitutes.
Boote says he chose his 26 man squad based on "fitness and skills", and says "you have to find a balance of players who can tick all the boxes of the game".
The Western Force have named a squad of 26 that will feature some new faces in Brisbane. New recruits include NRL recruit Curtis Rona, Chance Peni and 68 cap Wallabies veteran and former Waratah Tatafu Polota-Nau.
Foote says the 26-man playing squad consists mostly of contracted and "Future Force Foundation" members, as the Force will use this competition to prepare for the upcoming Super Rugby season.
Former Force captain Matt Hodgson says the new recruits are settling in well.
"At our first training session we had a new person ratio of about 50 per cent, but after two weeks of training it felt like everyone had been there for a while," Hodgson said.
"The transition period was quick, the group has jelled nicely and now it is time to transfer what we have done on the training paddock to the field."
"We have the two local boys who have returned, Curtis Rona and Chance Peni, who are getting better and better every time they step on to a field."