The West

Lack of stars could prove vital  for Force
Michael Foley.

Lack of big-name Wallabies at the Western Force may not be so bad for the Super Rugby club's new-look coaching team.

With only two players in the current Australian squad, scrum-half Brett Sheehan and winger Nick Cummins, it means they will have almost their entire squad together from day one of training.

Last season the Brumbies had only three Wallabies in their squad for pre-season and finished second in the Australian Super conference equal on points with the first-placed Queensland Reds.

"It's not so bad that we don't have high exposure," coach Michael Foley said.

"As much as we want players to play for the Wallabies it's about 'Day One' for us and building them to the point that they become international players.

"I'd like to think that come next year we have a number of Force players that have done well enough to make the Wallabies."

Two of Foley's new assistants were officially unveiled yesterday, backs and attack coach Steve Meehan and rugby strategist Phil Fowler. Forwards mentor Nick Stiles re-signed earlier this year but defence consultant David Wessels is still to sign on.

RugbyWA chairman Russel Perry said the appointments were significant for a club that had not made a finals series since its 2006 inception.

"In the last few years our results have been, quite frankly, unacceptable and it's time for significant changes," he said.

"We know our standing over the past few seasons has been unacceptable and we have effectively turned over the entire professional rugby department."

The squad assembles in Perth in two weeks but the coaches already have a lengthy injury list that includes captain and flanker Matt Hodgson, props Pek Cowan and Salesi Ma'afu, second-rowers Sam Wykes, Toby Lynn and Phoenix Battye and centre Will Tupou who all had post-season surgery.

However, they are confident all will be ready for the 2013 season.

"There is a significant injury list but we are hopeful that all of those guys will be fit to fully train by January, which is pleasing," Foley said.

"We need to do things a lot differently in terms of how we manage the players. It is all about injury prevention rather than curing the problem once it occurs."

They also need to inject confidence into last year's underperforming side.

"The key message there is confidence," Foley said. "It is something the team has lacked at critical times."

The West Australian

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