Super Rugby AU: Ian Prior says Western Force can be 'feel-good story' of Australian rugby
Watch Reds vs Waratahs live on Sky Sports Action on Friday from 10am; Brumbies vs Rebels live on Sky Sports Action & Main Event on Saturday from 10.10am
Last Updated: 01/07/20 9:34am
Nearly three years after playing their last Super Rugby game, Western Force hope to be the "feel-good story" of Australian rugby when they return to the limelight next week.
The Perth-based side will join Australia's four Super Rugby teams in a 12-week domestic competition as professional rugby union returns to the country for the first time since March.
Axed from Super Rugby at the end of the 2017 season, the Force play their first match of "Super Rugby AU" next week against the Waratahs in Sydney after an opening-round bye.
"Obviously, among the playing group there's a lot of excitement," said Force captain Ian Prior.
"All the players have been working hard, as well as the coaches, to make sure we're right to go.
"It's a huge moment for this club and organisation after a couple of years out to be back and probably [be] a feel-good story for Australian rugby."
Governing body Rugby Australia culled Western Force to save costs when Super Rugby contracted to 15 teams from 18 in 2018, angering many in the team's home state of Western Australia.
Force have played on under the patronage of Andrew Forrest, competing in the mining billionaire's Global Rapid Rugby tournament which features modified rules and Asia-Pacific teams.
Force have recruited Super Rugby veterans, including 37-year-old former Wallabies prop Greg Holmes and ex-Queensland utility back Jono Lance.
Holmes returns after four years at Exeter in the English Premiership, while Lance joins up after a move to Scottish side Edinburgh was scrapped because of Covid-19.
"He (Holmes) is raring to go and he's an absolute professional," said Prior.
"We're really excited to see what he can do out there for us."
Super Rugby AU kicks on Friday with the Reds facing old rivals the Waratahs in Brisbane, live on Sky Sports Action from 10am.