Western Force forward Ben McCalman will miss Saturday night’s Super Rugby clash with the Chiefs after being suspended for a dangerous tackle.
The Western Force aren’t daring to dream of finals action just yet despite recording back-to-back bonus-point wins for the first time in their Super Rugby history.
The Force followed up their 32-7 trouncing of the Melbourne Rebels with a 31-29 win over the Highlanders in Dunedin on Saturday.
The impressive wins lifted the Force up to equal sixth on the table ahead of Saturday night’s clash with the defending champion Chiefs in Perth.
Force marquee Wilhelm Steenkamp, who was part of the Bulls’ set-up when they won the title in 2009, said the Perth-based franchise couldn’t afford to think too far ahead just yet.
“We’re in a great position,” Steenkamp said on Tuesday.
“But it’s only two wins out of four games – 50 per cent at the moment.
“We are not thinking about playoffs or anything like that.
“The past two weeks have shown the quality of players the Force have.
“We want to make it a great season for us and we are busy getting something special here at the moment.”
The Force have the chance to notch three wins on the trot for the first time since 2007.
But it won’t be an easy task against the undefeated Chiefs, who have won the past two Super Rugby titles.
The Force will be without in-form forward Ben McCalman after his 26th birthday celebrations turned sour on Tuesday when he was suspended for a dangerous lifting tackle on Highlanders prop Kane Hames.
McCalman pleaded guilty and copped a two-week ban but, with the Force’s bye next week, he will only miss one game.
The Wallaby will return for the April 5 showdown with the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.
McCalman received a yellow card for the lifting tackle, but SANZAR Duty Judicial Officer Nicholas Davidson said the dangerous nature of the incident meant a suspension needed to be handed out.
“I considered that the potential for harm was significant as the tackled player was lifted high off the ground and tipped forcefully with no attempt to arrest or mitigate his fall,” Davidson said.
The Chiefs will be without utility back Charlie Ngatai (calf), winger James Lowe (knee) and Robbie Fruean, who will undergo a procedure to address a heart arrhythmia issue.
Prop Ben Afeaki, loose forward Sam Cane and halfback Augustine Pulu have been called into the Chiefs’ 27-man squad.
The Force could be without in-form forward Ben McCalman, who is facing a suspension over his spear tackle on Highlanders prop Kane Hames.