The Emirates Western Force may have lost some big name players but this is the season of truth.
In season one in 2006 there were some big name signings and the more of the same in fact in 2007, but could Coach John Mitchell mould them into a successful team? Or were they signed as a marketing ploy?
Certainly Force fans were bitterly disappointed at the team’s failure to make a finals appearance with so many big name players on the park. At times their play was too rigid and predictable.
Despite his individual brilliance, which on more than one occasion saved the team’s blushes was Matt Giteau good for the team? Did he control the back line?
This season fans should see for themselves – as long as he stays fit – a number ten that pulls the strings and dictates play, in Andre Pretorius. With Pretorius in charge the back play should be better and we should see the best of Shepherd and Cross.
We will go so far as to say that we believe that the Force will have their best season yet, as they have recruited well this time and not just tried to pull in big names. These new signings Brett Sheehan, Andre Pretorius, Matt Dunning, Mark Bartholomeusz, Sam Harris, Stefano Hunt, Mitchell Inman, Tim Fairbrother, Nic Henderson, Luke Jones and Ben McCalman will be a breath of fresh air. No egos, just talented individuals who want to play rugby and in a lot of cases put their hands up for Wallaby selection.
But the lasting question hangs over Coach John Mitchell, who has already started talking in riddles. Sometimes when one listens to him, he falls back on ‘technispeak’ which makes the game sound so complicated and his role incredibly complex. But no matter what he says he will be ultimately be judged by results on the park. If they do not improve as we predict then this could well be his last at the helm, and rightly so.
In season one, they understandably came bottom of the Super 14 log. Season two saw an improvement as they climbed to 7th. But the last two seasons have seen the team stagnate as they came 8th twice in a row.
The Emirates Western Force board need a finals appearance after moving to the smaller more intimate ME Bank Stadium, and the Perth Public will expect an improvement on the past two seasons. Failure to climb the ladder could see Mitchell’s tenure as coach come to an end.
World Cup Winning coach Jake White is waiting in the wings, and is keen to coach the Force, as reported on the show, and he may be the man to take the team higher, after all Mitchell could only get the All Blacks to a semi-final!