Battle of back row lifts Force
Battle of back row lifts Force

It must be pretty onerous going to work each day knowing you have to challenge the boss for his job.

But that is what faces Western Force flanker Chris Alcock again this season if he wants to play in the prized No.7 jumper.

Pitted against his captain Matt Hodgson, he shares a friendly rivalry that is adding spice and motivation to training.

Alcock started nine games at openside flanker last year while Hodgson started in seven. Alcock came off the bench for his seven other appearances - twice replacing his captain.

Hodgson also started at blindside flanker five times, was on the bench twice and missed two games, one with injury and the other for the birth of his son Hunter.

The battle of the back row does not end there, with Wallabies Ben McCalman and Hugh McMeniman, Angus Cottrell and new South African signing Brynard Stander all in the mix.

"There's definitely going to be some heated competition with all of us there," Alcock said.

"In training you always go out and try the best you can, competition is healthy.

"When we train we do everything we have to do, whatever we need to do. You train hard but whatever happens on the field stays on the field and you are good mates off it."

Alcock had an outstanding 2013 with pace and strength as a ball carrier and toughness at the collision and breakdown. He will be hoping to maintain his 100 per cent Force appearance record, having played in every game last year. Only scrum-half Alby Mathewson matched the feat.

"It is absolutely a target to play in every game again. I want to be out there as much as possible. It's what I'm here to do," Alcock said.

Alcock followed Michael Foley across the Nullarbor from the Waratahs last year as the coach's first signing. He had made 25 appearances for the NSW side.

Although Alcock prefers the No.7 jumper, he is happy to play anywhere across the back row.

"Seven suits me but I'll play in any of the three positions. It's all about what works best for the team. What suits the team," he said.

He said Foley had brought self-belief to the team heading into the new season.

"As a team I believe we have more belief that we can win more games," he said.

"I've worked under Foles for quite a while and belief is something he has always tried to instil especially with the Western Force.

"Last year we had quite a young team, there were new combinations, but as the year progressed people started working better together and we started to get results.

"We can take a lot out of last year, in the way we competed, but we have to close out games."

The West Australian

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