Western Force stalwart Ian Prior plays his 100th game for the club in Saturday’s do-or-die clash with the Hurricanes while retiring Jeremy Thrush hopes it won’t be his last of the season against his former club.
Ninth-placed Force can sneak into the quarterfinals with a win at HBF Park and then hope Melbourne Rebels do them a favour and beat the Highlanders on Sunday.
Scrum-half Prior, the heart and soul of the Force, will be looking for a better end to a Super Rugby season than his first with the club.
In the last game of 2014 the Force needed just a point to make the finals but were bundled out by the Brumbies, Prior’s former club.
And he suffered horrendous injuries, three fractures of the cheekbone, a broken nose and risked a collapsed face five minutes into the game but played on for another 40 minutes before being dragged off by a doctor.
Prior will notch-up a unique double century, having played more than 100 Super games for the Force, Reds and Brumbies. He has also made 45 appearances in the National Rugby Championship.
“It wasn’t the best way to end a season back then but this is a pretty proud moment,” Prior said.
“A win would make it even better.
“It’s good be home for a big game and a special game for quite a few people.
“We seem to do our best work with our backs to the wall.
“We’ve given ourselves a chance and anything is possible as we’ve seen before.”
Second-rower Thrush is determined that the clash with his former club – he played 120 Super games for the Hurricanes – is not his last.
The former All Black, who joined the Force five years ago after they had been resurrected by billionaire Andrew Forrest, will be hanging up his boots at the end of this campaign but will remain at the club in a coaching role.
“Hopefully we can do a job on the ‘Canes,” Thrush said.
“It will be quite enjoyable to get one over over them and then we sit back and wait for the Rebels-Highlanders result.
“It’s exciting but we can only control what we can control.”
The line-out general and enforcer arrived at the Force after a three-year stint with English club Gloucester.
“When I left New Zealand I never thought I’d be back playing Super Rugby – and back playing Super Rugby for an Aussie team at that,” he said.
“A big thing for me now is giving back to the club.
“I want to help grow the game here and keep driving the Force to where we want to be.”