Sam Talakai is ready for a big forwards clash.
Sam Talakai is ready for a big forwards clash. DAVE HUNT

Forward battle key to Super Rugby clash

RUGBY UNION: The Queensland Reds must win the forward battle against the Western Force tonight if they are to end a dismal run against the men from the west.

That is the message from prop Sam Talakai, who is expecting a tough test from the Force pack at nib Stadium.

The Force has always been a bogey team for the Reds in Super Rugby, with the visitors having won just one of their last seven starts against the WA franchise.

The Reds have traditionally lost the battle around the breakdown and Talakai said that had to change if the Queenslanders were to back up on their opening-round win over the Sharks.

"All over the pack they're similar hard-working, very physical pack that we've had trouble against in the past," he said.

"We expect nothing less going out there and playing in front of their crowd for the first time this season.

"Last week they troubled the Waratahs but we back ourselves on the set-piece as well so it will be a good contest this weekend."

Talakai is also ready for a big performance from former Reds front-rower Ben Daley, who he believes will have a point to prove against his old team.

"Dales will definitely come out with a chip on his shoulder after being at the Reds for, I think, eight seasons and he'll be looking forward to putting in a good performance against his former club - I would expect nothing less from Dales," he said.

"He will come out hard and so will all the Force team."

There has been talk over the past few weeks that Australia could lose one of its five teams in the Super Rugby competition.

The Western Force and Brumbies are most under threat, according to reports and one could be gone from Super Rugby as early as next year.

But Talakai said his rise from Sydney University to the Reds' leadership group in the space of three years was proof of why keeping five Australian teams in Super Rugby was good for the competition.

"We want to keep those five teams," he said.

"I don't think dropping one team will strengthen the Australian Conference.

"For me, especially, having to come up here to get an opportunity with the Reds, a lot of guys throughout the country have been able to do that so staying strong with five teams is definitely something that not just myself and the Reds but all the playing group feel strongly about."