Western Force coach Michael Foley is confident new skipper Matt Hodgson and his army of lieutenants will be able to fill the leadership void left by Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock.
Champion lock Sharpe, who captained the Force during their first six years, retired at the end of last season after notching a record 162 Super Rugby appearances.
The Force were dealt a further blow when last year’s skipper Pocock defected to the Brumbies.
Sharpe and Pocock have been the heartbeat of the Force since the franchise’s inception in 2006, but Foley said Hodgson was well placed to take on the skipper’s role.
And the 31-year-old flanker will receive help in the leadership department from a big group of players eager to guide the Force to a successful future.
Toby Lynn, Pek Cowan and Sam Wykes are among the players who have stepped up their leadership duties, while Pat Dellit, Richard Brown and 20-year-old flyhalf Kyle Godwin are others who will be entrusted with keeping standards high.
“It could easily be seen to be a lot of chiefs and not a lot of Indians,” Foley said.
“But what we do have is one captain, and everyone else just takes care of business and keeps each other accountable to the highest standards.”
Foley said selflessness and honesty were two of Hodgson’s greatest attributes.
“Those two things together just give him enormous respect within the team,” Foley said.
“We’re very fortunate to have him leading us.”
Foley has spoken to Sharpe regularly in recent months and predicted the Wallabies great would return to the Force at some point to help out.
“We don’t have a long history, but we have some extremely supportive ex-players,” Foley said.
“David Pusey is a guy who is doing a lot behind the scenes. Scott Staniforth is another one.
“A lot of other provincial teams in Australia have ex-players who like to stand at a distance and take pot shots. We’ve got very supportive ex-players.
“I think Sharpey undoubtedly will fall into that group of guys that will be supportive in different ways.”
The new-look Force will get their first taste of action together when they take on the Brumbies in Darwin on February 1, before returning to WA to take on a Tongan Select XV in Mandurah on February 8.