New style, new Force

Matt Lewis Profile
by Matt Lewis

The Western Force squad knew they had to lift their attacking game after a disappointing 2015 season and halfback Ian Prior says it’s not just the coaching staff who worked to improve things in the off-season.

“There was a lot of player input, a big player input, on how we wanted to play,” he said.

“It’s been a collaborative effort with the coaches. We had a pretty long and tough review after last season that was needed.

“A big focus on player input means you have to buy in and you’re held responsible for it.

“I helped out, engineering the style. It’s good to have that understanding of how it works.”

The West Australian side showed off their new attacking prowess in their opening trial match of 2016 against last year’s minor premiers, the Hurricanes, winning 28-0.

That tally almost doubled their 2015 game average of 15 points and Prior said it was heartening to see the improvement on the field.

“After four or five months practising it was good to see it come to fruition,” he said.

“We’ve still got a bit of work to do, but the signs are there.

“It’s pretty tough on the lungs, there’s a lot more running, but I think everybody enjoyed playing it. Everyone gets involved.”

It’s been an off-season of change for the Force in both game-plan and personnel, adding playmakers such as former Springbok Peter Grant and former Reds and Waratahs utility Jonno Lance to the fold.

 “Getting to know the different guys and how they play has been a focus," Prior said.

"We were used to Sias and Zack and how they played now we have to know how the new guys adjust, how they react and see what they are looking for."

With the new season less than three weeks away, there are still questions around who will be the halves pairing for round one against the Rebels.

“It’s very competitive. We’re three pretty competitive guys and there’s a really good standard from all three, and it just brings out the best in us,” Prior said.

“Depth is important in Super Rugby and it will important moving forward with the long season.”