Force rugby coach praises his pack

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    Western Force coach Richard Graham says his pack is as strong as any in Super Rugby and the Perth-based franchise boasts it’s deepest ever squad. About to embark on their seventh season, the Force are still to make their finals debut.

    The Force finished 12th in 2011 with just five wins, but Graham pointed out they led after 65 minutes in 11 of their 16 games.

    He attributed their inability to close out games to lack of experience, not poor conditioning.

    Both Graham and openside flanker David Pocock, who has replaced legendary lock Nathan Sharpe as Force captain, recognised the need for their team to reward the patient Perth public.

    “For the game to move forward in WA, we need to win,” Graham said.

    Pocock said the Force expected a lot more of themselves this year and made it clear what would constitute a successful season.

    “We haven’t contested finals yet, so that’s our aim,” Pocock said.

    The pundits are yet to jump aboard the Force bandwagon this year, especially following the departures of key playmakers James O’Connor and Willie Ripia.

    While question marks linger over the backline, Graham is bullish about the forward artillery he has at his disposal.

    The recruitment of Test prop Salesi Ma’afu adds further grunt to a pack already including Wallabies Nathan Sharpe, David Pocock, Richard Brown, Ben McCalman, Matt Hodgson and Pek Cowan.

    “Our forward pack is as strong as any forward pack in Super Rugby and it’s that foundation which allows you to win games,” Graham told AAP at the Super Rugby season launch in Sydney on Thursday.

    “We’ve obviously got a lot of confidence in the work that they will do for us.

    “I think people still need to understand that we’re only six years old.

    “There were no concessions when we began. We began off our own back and a lot of hard work by the good people of WA.

    “I think now you’re starting to see the squad being the strongest and the most depth that we’ve ever had.
    “Should we have injuries, I think we’ve got enough cover to assist us.”

    With Ripia and O’Connor gone, former halfback James Stannard is earmarked as the new five-eighth with Sydney club product Ben Seymour his backup.

    “They’ve put in a lot of work up to this point, so now it’s a great opportunity for them to step up and play well at Super Rugby level,” Graham said.

    © AAP 2018

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    The Crowd Says (5)

    • February 10th 2012 @ 11:04am
      Go_the_Wannabe's said | February 10th 2012 @ 11:04am | ! Report

      Force played their best rugby with Turner and Stannard in the halves towards the end of last year.

      With that forward pack there are no excuses for not winning their share of the set pieces.

      Force are flying under the radar and could be smokeys.

    • February 10th 2012 @ 3:34pm
      Bazza all black said | February 10th 2012 @ 3:34pm | ! Report

      Mmmm, are we going back to the future….talking up Aussie forward packs before any actual games…

    • February 10th 2012 @ 6:43pm
      PeterK said | February 10th 2012 @ 6:43pm | ! Report

      the forward pack is not even the best in the aussie conference let alone the best going around.

      Crusaders, Blues, Bulls, Stormers, Sharks, Tahs, Reds just to name a few have better forward packs.

      Yes they have a lot of fringe Wallabies at the force but they are largely journeymen with the exception of Pocock and Sharpe.

    • February 10th 2012 @ 7:55pm
      Hannes said | February 10th 2012 @ 7:55pm | ! Report

      The Force has no ability to score points. Last year O’Connor had to do it, this year we hope a rookie may stand up and do it. Struggle to see the Force go far this year, but would like to see how Pocock fare as captain.

      • February 11th 2012 @ 3:14am
        Nipper said | February 11th 2012 @ 3:14am | ! Report

        Who is the rookie? Seymour? He’s below Stannard on the depth chart, and I wouldn’t consider Stannard a rookie. Limited experience, yes – but rookie? No.

        The lack of tries last year is indisputable, but how much of is was due to a “give the ball to Rabbit and let him go” attitude? Despite the lack of a qualified playmaker, I would argue that with the addition of Stanley and Nalaga, they have a stronger backline than last year. And with no Rabbit to rely on, they have to work as a unit to create the linebreaks and finish them. My main worry is Sheehan. His is slow and plodding and holds back the attack, rather than unleashing it.

        I’d agree with Go_the_Wannabe’s – “Force played their best rugby with Turner and Stannard in the halves”.

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