Force skipper out of Crusaders clash

20 March 2017 10:29:39 EST

A dislocated thumb will keep skipper Ben McCalman out of Western Force's game with the Crusaders on Friday.

The Wallabies No.8, who has missed the first three matches of the Super Rugby campaign, had hoped to have recovered by now.

But he'll have to wait until at least the second week of the Perth franchise's New Zealand tour when they take on the Blues in Auckland.

McCalman has had bad luck with injuries in the past year, twice fracturing his right shoulder while playing for Australia. He was first hurt in the second Test defeat to England in June, then two months later he sustained the same injury in a 42-8 loss to the All Blacks.

"It's been frustrating coming back from the shoulder injury and feeling 100 per cent and then doing the thumb. I'm hoping I've had my turn of injuries now," he said.

"It's been frustrating not being able to contribute, seeing the boys playing some decent rugby but not getting the results. We're creating the opportunities but not taking the points and winning the close games."

The Force will give centre Billy Meakes a fitness test on his ankle ahead of the clash with the unbeaten Crusaders.

He was hurt in the 25-17 defeat to the Brumbies, but is expected to play in Christchurch along with experienced flanker Matt Hodgson, who has recovered from a hamstring injury that kept him out of the first three games of the year.

McCalman said the players felt responsible for the defeat in Canberra.

"We felt confident going into the game, that we had the game plan to win," he added.
 
"But it's up to the players. The coaches are not out there chasing the ball or tackling or stopping mauls. It's really down to the players to perform on the day."

The Force are 8/1 to beat the Crusaders, who are 1/20.

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