Western Force coach Tim Sampson said on Thursday his team needs to beat the Melbourne Rebels for the fans in Western Australia who still feel aggrieved by the Perth side's expulsion from Super Rugby three years ago.
The Force play the Rebels on Friday for the first time since the 2017 Super Rugby season, which was overshadowed by Rugby Australia's plan to cull one of the teams to save costs.
Despite joining the southern hemisphere competition in 2006, five years ahead of the Rebels, the Force were cut at the end of the 2017 campaign, triggering protests from angry fans.
The Rebels survived and padded out their roster with most of the Force's best players but still failed to make the playoffs in 2018-19.
Sampson said the history would carry weight when the teams clashed at Leichhardt Oval.
"What the fans and members went through, they have every right to feel this way and, I think internally, for our fans, we've got to get a win," Sampson told reporters.
"We've just got to concentrate on what we can control and if we do come up with a win, we'll enjoy the spoils afterwards.
"I'm sure it does mean a lot to a lot of people back home and we've spoken about that already this week."
Veteran prop Pek Cowan, skipper Ian Prior, flyhalf Jono Lance, and Marcel Brache are among the current players who experienced the Force axing.
Former All Blacks lock Jeremy Thrush said the player group wouldn't let their emotions get the better of them.
"We've touched on it a little bit," Thrush said.
"It is there and we all know the history behind all that, but we need to focus on what we need to do right, and get our mindset right.
"There's always emotion ... there will be that there. But if we let that control us, we'll probably make a fair few errors and let ourselves down."
The Force have named their strongest squad of the season to date, with World Cup-winning All Black Richard Kahui and former Wallaby Godwin named as the new centre pairing.
"You're after cool heads in big games and this is a big game for us," Force coach Tim Sampson said.
"Through our backs, you go Nick Frisby, Lance, Kahui, Godwin, Brache on the wing - there's great experience there."
Foundation Force squad member Cowan, who pledged to never play for another Australian team after the Force were axed, has been named on the bench after serving his quarantine period and getting up to speed with the squad.
"He's raring to go. He's like a 20-year-old debutant," Sampson said.
The Force are winless from three games of the domestic 'Super Rugby AU' competition following a 24-0 thrashing by the leading Brumbies last week after being competitive against the Queensland Reds and New South Wales Waratahs.
The Rebels have a win, a loss and a draw from their three matches.