Force ready to 'relaunch' after horror 2012

JUSTIN CHADWICK
Last updated 15:57 04/02/2013
Michael Foley
Getty Images
MICHAEL FOLEY: "The recruitment from my perspective was around individuals who are very hungry to prove a point."

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Season 2012 will be remembered as one of the darkest chapters in the short history of the Western Force.

A 3-13 win-loss record and 14th place on the ladder makes for horrible reading.

The mid-season departure of coach Richard Graham to the Queensland Reds was a bitter pill to swallow.

The retirement of stalwart Nathan Sharpe - although expected - left a gaping hole.

And skipper David Pocock's defection to the Brumbies - after Will Genia's decision not to join the Perth-based franchise - left the Force in a state of shock.

With no coach, no captain, and a playing list bereft of match-winners, the future looked glum.

Yet from the ashes of the Force's 2012 disaster, a sense of optimism and hope has emerged for the new season in 2013.

In the words of new coach Michael Foley, it's time to "relaunch" the Force.

Foley failed to spark the Waratahs last season, netting just four wins in a disappointing campaign.

But the former Wallabies hooker is confident he is the right man to finally guide the Force to the success they so desperately crave, with his three-year deal giving him the time needed to set foundations and achieve results.

Foley has cobbled together a strong team of assistants and strategists to help his cause, while an overhaul of the team's misfiring backline has boosted hopes of a far more attacking Force outfit this season.

The squad still lacks major starpower.

But the Brumbies proved last season that hungry players can sometimes be at least as effective as highly-paid stars.

"Talented players don't necessarily equate to success in team sport," Foley said.

"The recruitment from my perspective was around individuals who are very hungry to prove a point."

For the Force to taste success, they will need to overcome the flyhalf curse that has plagued the franchise since their inception in 2006.

Over the past seven years, 16 five-eighths have come and gone, with only Matt Giteau enjoying any sustained success in the role.

This season, South African sharpshooter Sias Ebersohn is set to get first crack at the No.10 jersey, while former Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight and Australian Under-20 flyhalf Kyle Godwin are other options should Ebersohn not fire.

The loss of champion lock Sharpe and world-class flanker Pocock is huge.

But Foley has faith in the leadership of new skipper Matt Hodgson, who will join forces with fellow Wallabies Ben McCalman and Richard Brown to form a formidable back row.

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With Wallabies scrumhalf Brett Sheehan (ankle) set to miss at least the first four weeks of the season, former All Black Alby Mathewson will wear the No.9 jersey and add a touch of quality.

The Force's forward pack performed well last season, and the addition of former Reds powerhouse Hugh McMeniman adds further class.

But it's the new-look backline that will make or break the Force's fortunes this season. 

- AAP

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