The Emirates Western Force have been quietly going about their business without too much fuss, kicking a few goals on the way.
Unlike some other franchises, they’re relatively cashed up and have recruited wisely over the summer. They may surprise a few people next year.
Apart from their Wallaby players who have been resting after the Spring Tour, the playing squad have been training hard for the past eight weeks of the pre-season.
There’s some relatively good news on the injury front as well. You’ll remember that winger Nick ‘Peter Frampton’ Cummins ruptured ligaments in his foot in Sydney as a member of the Wallabies Spring Tour training squad.
A team mate accidently landed on the back of his ankle during a contact drill. It is looking likely that he may return in the early stages of the 2010 Super 14 season.
And of course Nathan Sharpe withdrew from the tour due to a shoulder injury. He had surgery on it and is preparing to come back for the first trial game in South Africa late next month.
Brett Sheehan had some maintenance done where a bit of bone was cut from his ankle and a screw taken out of his knee. There were complications from that including some clots in his leg but they have cleared up now. He was back running a few weeks ago.
Meanwhile, the Force have released a new 2010 playing strip with the alternate jersey enjoying an overhaul from previous seasons. The new jersey designs reflect the fans’ desire for blue to be the predominant colour.
The new away strip maintains the sky blue on the front, but has white sleeves and a white back with the Swan remaining a feature, silhouetted in grey. This new jersey will replace the gold and black version for the 2010 season.
White has been introduced as a secondary colour (as required by SANZAR) to avoid clashes, and best compliment the ocean blue.
The traditional home jersey has small changes to the shape and cut, but retains the strong blue and black presence of the past four seasons. The iconic black swan on all apparel maintains the heritage of the club.
The Force have also moved to a new rectangular stadium located close to the centre of Perth. Members Equity Bank Stadium is currently undergoing an upgrade and will feature six home Super 14 games in 2010.
ME Bank Stadium will allow for more than 21,000 patrons to attend each fixture with the addition of temporary seating.
The move has been long awaited by Western Force fans having to put up with playing at Subiaco Oval, which is designed as an AFL field. Sure, capacity was 43,500 but not much use if you can’t see the action.
The fan base has been dwindling from early large attendances and a lot of this has been put down to the ‘user unfriendly’ Oval.
Some of the $2 million improvements to the stadium which will be ready for the Force’s first game against the Brumbies on 12 February include:
- Major improvements to the lighting including the installation of 2 new lighting towers (mainly to meet broadcasting requirements).
- New temporary stands being installed parallel to the eastern side line, in the south-eastern corner, and adjacent to the existing southern stand.
- New terracing for standing room members on the hill at the north eastern corner.
- The installation for of 2 new ‘big screens’ at each end of the stadium.
- New corporate suites being installed at both north western corner and alongside the grandstand on the south western side.
- Major upgrade works to the existing change-rooms.
Here’s hoping the Force run through into a smooth and disruption free season – we don’t want a repeat of the ‘player power’ dramas of the last one.
I’ll be taking a special interest in the Force through 2010 and look forward to writing more good news stories on their efforts.