Western Force general manager Mark Sinderberry remains bullish about the support of the WA franchise, despite anticipating a smaller membership base in 2017.
Sinderberry admitted the sign up for next season would likely be below levels of this season but was adamant the future of WA rugby was still bright, as the side launched its new jersey.
The recent news that Perth will host the 2019 Bledisloe Cup, as well as a groundswell of support behind a grassroots campaign aimed at fan ownership gave Sinderberry confience.
“We'd certainly like to keep the same levels as last year - the reality is we'll most likely come up a little bit short on that,”the sense at the moment is that sea of blue, that group of people who have been behind the club for 11 years now is still very strong and keen to see the organisation succeed,” he said.
“On top of that, the recent announcement about the Bledisloe Cup really gives us a lot of hope about what the future of rugby looks like in western australia.
The Force has been buoyed by the announcement that WA company CLough will remain as a sponsor until at least 2019, a partnership announced on Thursday.
The Force’s new strip is a hark back to the jerseys of its early years, returning to the same shade of blue it had in its inception, a move Sinderberry said was very deliberate.
Co-captain Ben McCalman said the shift was an important one for the club.
“I think it's important to remember the players that have been here and we still represent them every time we play,”-Ben McCalman
“I think a lot of the older boys wanted to see the original blue come back so it's great to have it back.”
McCalman praised the influence of the new coaching group, headed by Dave Wessels, full of compliments about attack coach Shaun Berne.
“Definitely there's a lot of belief within the group and a lot of support over here for a lot of years and I guess it's our job now to give something back to them and play a style of rugby they like to come and watch and most importantly get those results.
“I think having a bloke that played 10 himself, [Berne] has a great understanding of the game. He's worked with some great players in [Brian] O'Driscoll in his past coaching years.
“To have him here - his experience, he's working a lot with the backs and also the forwards, different running lines and shapes, so it's definitely changed and I think the boys are enjoying it."