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Force will relish being back home

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Lynn McConnell     08 Apr 2016     Getty Images

The Force had a tough three-week tour of New Zealand playing the Hurricanes, Chiefs and Highlanders, with their best effort being in the last game, although it was the third loss for the side.

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Matson said: "It's amazing the importance of being away on tour and then coming back to your home ground.

"I think for them having had a couple of pretty tough weeks to be home, in Perth, playing against the Crusaders they'll have belief in what they can do here. It'll definitely lift their game. It's going to be a tough game, we're aware of that."

The Crusaders have brought back lock Samuel Whitelock and flanker Jordan Taufua for the game as part of their player welfare approach.

"We're pretty responsive to how the players roll out of games now and the game in Johannesburg was really fatiguing so it is just part of our ebb and flow of players' well-being," he said.

They were lucky to have Deb Robinson as the team doctor with all her experience, he said, while there was also a lot of awareness around head injuries and centre Sean Wainui had been through a rigorous protocol and slowly moved back into consideration. He had come off the bench last week and was back to full fitness.
Matson said second five-eighths Ryan Crotty completed his second 80-minute game and was just getting his match fitness and Wainui was an exciting player and now had the chance to link with Crotty for the first time and it was exciting for the side. It was likely they would have a busy time on Friday because the Force used their mid-field extensively.

There were only a third of the players who were in the team when they lost in Perth two years ago and some of them might be haunted but the others in the side had no memory of the game and it was a case of the Crusaders just maintaining their momentum from the tour, he said.

"Momentum ties in with your psychology so it is definitely something you need to harness and try to keep it going. There's parts of the game we still operate very poorly on, we've probably been lucky because the last two outcomes have been really positive but there are parts of our game we are really focusing in on," he said.

The counter-attack and turnover were traditionally areas the Crusaders did well in and they would be looking to use them against the Force.

"You're always looking for a complete performance and we definitely haven't had one. We've always been an attack-centric team but I think defence has always been a cornerstone to our success and it's an area we always chip away at and that ebbs and flows with different opposition," he said.

They had played three South African sides and now they were heading back to the Force and Jaguares who were completely different.

Returning fullback Israel Dagg had not been considered for the game. He was getting over a long-term injury and was building back into his work. Matson said it would have been a different prospect if he had a month or two of rugby behind him.