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Force will vie with Kings for wooden spoon
Greg Growden and ESPN Staff
February 14, 2013
Western Force winger Nick Cummins races away to score, Melbourne Rebels v Western Force, Super Rugby, AAMI Park, Melbourne, Australia, March 23, 2012
Force flyer Nick Cummins finished 2012 as a regular for the Wallabies. © Getty Images
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Western Force failed to make an impression with Nathan Sharpe and David Pocock in the side; without them, Michael Foley and his 13 new players face a long, long season, Greg Growden writes.

Last season: 14th overall, fifth in Australian Conference; victories over the Reds and Waratahs gave fans something to cheer, but 2012 otherwise was dire for a team that really should now be tempting enough for profile players to stick in Perth.

Key man: Nick Cummins will get the headlines as a Wallabies winger, but Matt Hodgson is the man around whom the Force will bond. The foundation player and Wallabies backrower produces a consistently high level of form and inspires teammates with his willingness to lay his body on the line. He has a huge role to play in the absence of David Pocock.

Rising star: Fiji Under-20 centre Junior Rasolea joined the Force on the back of breakout efforts for the Australian Sevens team. The 100kg-plus wrecking ball is keen to deploy his Sevens counter-attacking skills in the 15-man game, and he could produce a genuine highlights reel.

Season preview: Seven seasons of under-achievement and the Force seem forever to be in flux. This year, the Force have just 13 new faces and another new coach, Michael Foley, who joins having enjoyed limited success with the Waratahs. No Nathan Sharpe, no David Pocock, no Will Genia after the Reds halfback rejected a projected big-money move ...only the brave or the foolish can predict anything other than more woe in Perth.

Greg Growden's verdict: A new coach, a change in management, but so what? They ain't got the players. Over in Perth, in rugby's version of the OK Corral, the Force cowboys love talking big. But this year it is really a case of "Big Hat. No Cattle"; with Nathan Sharpe, David Pocock and 15 others gone, there is virtually nobody left. It is going to be a long, long, long season for Michael Foley, who fled from the Waratahs for the relative quietness of Western Australia. But the bongo drums will soon be beating because the Force will vie with the newcomers, the Southern Kings, for the wooden spoon.

Tip: Fifth in Australian conference. Finish: 14th overall.

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