Strong foundations, but hard work just starting for Force

Super Rugby
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Preseason starts on Monday for the Western Force, coach Dave Wessels says, despite the uncertainty that still lingers over their future.

Emotion spoke for itself in the Force's 40-11 win, a desire to finish on a high for retiring veteran Matt Hodgson something that made Wessels' week an easy one.

"Physically, in the contact areas, we dominated those in these conditions, that’s what’s really made the difference," he said.

"That really comes down to mentality, I think and wanting to play for each other and a lot of that has to do with Hodgo.

"A lot of it also has to do with how the group feels about each other."

The Force’s win over the Waratahs means they finished second in the Australian conference, equal on wins with the leading Brumbies with bonus points the ultimate difference.

Matt Hodgson's dad flew over for the match. Photo: Getty ImagesThough Wessels was proud of his team’s efforts, their 12th-placing overall held more true for him, and the Force mentor said the hard work would begin again next week, with the NRC looming.

Things will continue on for the Force next week, with the players returning to training ahead of the NRC, he said.

“We’re training for the next two weeks, we start preparing for the NRC,” he said.

“NRC’s a pretty important period for us, we get the benefit as a club of playing more or less our team through the NRC period.

“Our intention is to use the NRC in a really meaningful way and ultimately that’ll lead us into our preseason for next year’s Super Rugby.”

The Force’s fans have been vocal throughout the Super Rugby saga and WA billionaire Andrew Forrest made a public pledge after the game to support the club in whichever way it may require.

A crowd of 10,384 turned out to watch the Force’s final 2017 game, their second-largest home crowd of the season behind their clash with the Chiefs, despite grim weather conditions.

As for why the club seems to have been able to drum up the groundswell it has, Wessels said it was simple.

“I’ve got a young son and if my son grows up to be like a lot of the men in that room you’d be pretty proud,” he said.

“From a character perspective, they’re all pretty special.

“One of the foundations of a good team’s getting the right people on the bus.

“We haven’t completed our game, we’re a long way from that and our skills and different things have to improve but we’ve got the right characters.

“You can even tell from the staff- if you get to the building at 6 in the morning, a lot of the staff are there and looking at vision and preparing for the day.

“We’ve got people who want to win, people who care about each other, which is a pretty good foundation for what we’re trying to do.”