The Western Force will look to maintain their unbeaten Global Rapid Rugby Showcase record in Friday night’s Indigenous appreciation match against Kagifa Samoa at HBF Park.
The Force will be without star winger Brad Lacey after early indications suggest the 25-year-old may have damaged his ACL.
Lacey’s absence has prompted Force head coach Tim Sampson to call on WA youngster Clay Uyen to fill the void.
“Clay has contributed very well this year and has been a handful for the opposition coming off the bench. While we’ll miss Brad, it does provide an opportunity for Clay, and on home turf, I know he will be craving to put in a good performance,” he said.
Clay Uyen said it’s great to be back playing at HBF Park in front of the Force’s loyal supporters.
“There’s something special about this pitch,” he said.
“We always play our best footy here and there’s a certain buzz, our loyal fans come down and yeah, we really enjoy being here.”
Uyen suggested that the key to beating a gigantic Samoan side is about exposing them with outside run and dash.
“You can’t go through them sometimes because they’re huge humans, but speed will definitely help for us,” he said.
“We’ll probably capitalise out wide I’d think.”
On the evening, Uyen will be among a number of players who’ll be wearing specially made boots created in partnership with the Force and students from Guildford Grammar’s Indigenous Program.
The boots will be put up for auction after the game to raise funds and awareness for the Earbus Foundation.
Uyen conceded even though it’s a good idea for the boots to be auctioned, he’ll be disappointed to see them sold.
“I’m actually kind of hoping there might be another way to get the back because these are getting auctioned off and it’s going to be sad to see them go,” he said.
“But it’s a pretty cool idea and concept to have them auctioned off.”
Guildford Grammar School’s Indigenous program coordinator Andrew Beck said he’s thrilled that his students have been given such an important role for the Indigenous appreciation match.
“At first, I thought it was going to be a short 5-minute dance before the game, but it turns out they have given us a major role in the pre-match entertainment. This will include a performance by one of our school bands and our Indigenous dancers,” he said.
“Just when I thought that was it, they (Western Force) asked if I knew anyone that could help them paint shoes for the players.
“I instantly knew that the Guildford Grammar School students would love the opportunity.”
“So we started the planning process and the shoes were painted here at the school last week. It was such an honour to be involved and to showcase our culture.”
The Force will also be wearing black and gold as part of its WA day celebrations.
After spending his junior days in the traditional state colours, Uyen said it will be a sweet reminder of his younger years.
“I grew up wearing the black and gold, so it will be a blast from the past but it will feel good,” he said.