Shepherd wants to end on a high



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Western Force fullback Cameron Shepherd will play his 50th Super rugby match against the Chiefs on Saturday at the Subiaco Oval and is desperate to see the Force finish off the season in the same form that they started it with.

The Force started very well and it was generally accepted early on that they were the best Australian team only for them to capitulate mid season as they slipped out of the top-four race with losses to the Reds, Waratahs and Stormers

Shepherd however is confident the bye last week has freshened the team up and they hope to finish off strongly even though is he is under no illusion that the Chiefs are in ominous form and will be tough to conquer.

Adding to the Force’s woes is that they have some injury concerns in that they lost Haig Sare after the loss to the Reds and Scott Staniforth sitting out training with a knee complaint and AJ Whalley and Chris O’Young training away from the main group.

“We will be trying to get back to the way we were playing at the start of the season.

“Attacking football is the way we want to play and we want to pull width and use the ball, so hopefully that’s the way it turns out on Saturday night,” Shepherd told Sportal.

“They’ve got an awesome backline which will make it hard for us with the quality players they have there, so we are going to have our work cut out for us but we look forward to the challenge.”

Mathematically the Force are still in with a chance for a play off so Shepherd and the rest of the team want to keep whatever faint glimmer there is alive, while making sure they end the season in good form individually.

“Even though we could still miss out on the semi-finals if we win these last three games, it’s a chance to save a lot of pride and make it a decent year for us.

“We started off so strong, have had only a reasonable middle section but if we finish off strong the season doesn’t look too bad for us and you’d say we have definitely moved forward,” he said.

“Personal pride is what’s going to drive us the next few weeks and if we win all three games, we give ourselves a chance of making it. Playing for finals isn’t what we are doing at the moment, we are playing for ourselves.”

Shepherd is proud to reach the 50 cap milestone at home and is feeling a little fresher after the bye, but will need to play at his very best to impress his brother who is flying to Perth for the clash.

“The biggest boost for me is that my brother is coming over for the game and he’s a harder marker than John Mitchell, so I will have to really be on my game to impress him.

“It is pretty special for me, though, and I’m really looking forward to it,” he said.

“I am feeling good, am looking forward to these last three games and feel as though I’m coming into better form. It will be nice to get back out there on Saturday and hopefully continue that.”

ARU boss John O’Neill wants a fifth Australian team and a 26-week season coming in by 2010 and Shepherd is unsure if either is a good idea and sees the positives and negatives in both proposals.

“It’s going to be tough for Australia to support five teams, there’s no doubting that, but if Australian rugby wants to move forward you have to look past 2010, 11 and 12 and down the track five or 10 years.

” There’s a lot of things to take into account and I’m a bit half and half on it at the moment,” he said.

“Combined with the international season that would make for a long year, but you would look at the younger guys getting more time to play and you could develop better depth that way. If it happens it happens and we’ll cross that bridge when we have to.”

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