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Western Force hit back at their doubters

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Article Published: Monday 20 February 2012|

Western Force forwards coach Nick Stiles has hit back at the Perth Super Rugby team's critics saying people would be foolish to bet on them being last.

Two Australian bookies have put the Force as favourites to finish in last place in 2012 with the Brumbies, Lions and Cheetahs also tipped to stick near the bottom.

The main reason for the Force's expected struggle is that they lost their star points collector James O'Connor and dropped first-choice five-eighth Willie Ripia from the team.

Forwards coach Stiles says that the Force will be fine without the pair and says betting on them to finish last would be throwing it away.

"You'd be wasting your money I reckon," Stiles told AAP on Monday.

"So keep your hard earned in your pocket or put us to finish a bit higher than that."

In pre-season Super Rugby warm ups the Force struggled against Brumbies and Reds which has not helped the bookmakers predictions.

Former Brumbies prop Salesi Ma'afu has moved to Perth in the off-season but has been surprised how quickly everyone had written off the Force.

"It makes me feel good if all those people are going to put their money on it and lose their money," Ma'afu said.

"I think we've got a good team."

Ironically Ma'afu will be back in Canberra on Friday as the Force kick off their Super rugby season against the Brumbies in Canberra.

Twenty-eight-year-old Ma'afu played 52 games for the Brumbies and has won 14 Test caps since making his Wallabies debut in 2010 but is looking forward to new surroundings.

"I'd been there six years and things seem to get pretty dull," said Ma'afu.

"That's the way life is. I needed a change. I'm happier now with my rugby and my life and enjoying it."

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