The Western Force will be boosted by the return of key players over the next fortnight as they attempt to lock down a maiden Super Rugby finals berth.
Wallabies prop Pek Cowan has twin goals for the next month – signing a new contract with the Western Force and playing Super Rugby finals.
The Force can guarantee themselves a maiden finals berth with wins over the Blues (home), Reds (home) and Brumbies (Canberra) during the next three weeks.
Even two wins might be enough to land them a top-six spot if other results fall their way.
Cowan has experienced plenty of lows since joining the Force for their inaugural Super Rugby campaign in 2006.
But the 28-year-old is confident the Perth-based franchise is now destined for a bright future, and he hopes he can sign off on a new deal in the coming weeks.
“I never really wanted to leave until I felt like I accomplished something and the club accomplished something worth celebrating,” Cowan said.
“This year it definitely feels like we’re playing for something. It’s almost like a just reward for the amount of hard work that’s been done behind the scenes.”
Cowan indicated he’d bided his time on a new deal.
“I’m confident that within the next couple of weeks I can cement something in writing,” he said.
“I’ve been a little bit patient because I wanted to see who was staying and who was going.
“The core guys we’ve wanted to keep we’ve been able to keep.”
Cowan’s hot form this season was rewarded with a Wallabies recall for their 3-0 series win over France.
The Wellington-born front rower made two appearances off the bench during the series, but it was enough to fuel his hunger for more international action.
However, his focus at the moment is on Saturday night’s clash with the Blues in Perth.
The Force will welcome back scrumhalf Alby Mathewson, forward Hugh McMeniman, centre Solomoni Rasolea and utility back Marcel Brache from injury, while winger Nick Cummins is expected to play despite copping a knock to his shoulder against France.
Star centre Kyle Godwin (knee), winger Luke Morahan (hamstring) and flanker Chris Alcock (shoulder) could return the following week against Queensland.
Cowan said the three-week break for international rugby came at a perfect time for the Force, whose injuries had threatened to derail their season.
“It’s great to be in charge of our own destiny,” Cowan said.
“We’ve broken a lot of hoodoos this year.
“We’ve got another bit of history to write here, and it starts this week.”