Cross shines, others don’t

The Force defied their high, pre-season expectations when they went down to the Highlanders on the weekend. But Rugby League-convert, centre Ryan Cross, did not disappoint.

The Force’s backline is full of stars, but that was not enough for them to secure their first home game. New signing Drew Mitchell had a nightmarish game at fullback on top of their worries up-front, but it was Ryan Cross, who played his first serious Rugby Union game in a decade, that managed to impress in a mediocre Force performance.

“I started the game pretty well, but obviously it was a frustrating result – there is a lot to work on,” Cross told the Australian Associated Press (AAP).

“We were put under a bit of pressure, and we dropped a bit too much ball, but we are not dropping our heads.

“But we can still move forward, and there is a lot of games to go.”

Force coach John Mitchell also added his endorsement of the 27-year-old former Australian Schoolboys fullback.

He had told Cross that he needed to bulk up on the off-season, and Cross demonstrated an incision in his offense as well as an effective adaptation to the breakdowns of Rugby Union which are absent in League – aspects of play that will satisfy Mitchell concerning his new signing.

“It was pretty physical (against the Highlanders) and I probably got caught out once or twice,” Cross said.

“I like to get involved early and get into the game, but as the game went on it just seemed to get a bit more unstructured. I will learn a bit from that.”

With injured fly-half James Hilgendorf set to miss the Friday’s clash against the Stormers, and Giteau likely to shift inside to the pivot role, Cross will probably pair with either Junior Pelesasa or Scott Staniforth in the midfield.

“I haven’t played with Scott Staniforth before, and only played half a game with Giteau and the other boys. Obviously we need a bit more time,” Cross said.

“I don’t know most of the boys that well so hopefully we can have a few nights (out), and have a bit of fun.

“They said Cape Town is pretty good, so I am just going to go there with open eyes and enjoy myself”

365 Digital

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