Pre-season training at the Emirates Western Force got underway today, with players tested for their strength and fitness ahead of a busy schedule in the lead-up to the team’s 2007 Super 14 debut on Friday 2 February.
Further screening, including medical tests, will take place tomorrow and Wednesday before the team – minus those on the Wallabies Spring Tour – meets for its first session as a group on Friday.
Emirates Western Force head coach John Mitchell said the whole squad would not be together until January, when the Wallabies had returned from the tour and active rest.
“So, much of the focus during the pre-season will be working on the basics and key skills for the new season,” he said.
“The pleasing thing is that, unlike our first year, we won’t have some many people having to adapt to a new environment and a new way of doing things.”
Mitchell said he wouldn’t speculate on how the Emirates Western Force would perform in 2007 but he expected improvement.
“We start off the season with the same opportunity as everyone else but I do expect the player group to respond more quickly and for the senior players to take more ownership,” he said.
“And don’t expect our new recruits to be an instant success. They bring experience but they will also take some time settling in and getting familiar with our systems.”
One of the new recruits at the testing today was 27 year old former Sydney Roosters winger, Ryan Cross, who said he was looking forward to resurrecting his rugby career at the Emirates Western Force.
“I played rugby at school before switching to rugby league with the Roosters, so it’s been a while since I played the game but I’m sure it won’t take me long to get back in the swing of things, here in Perth.”
Cross played more than 140 games in his nine seasons at the Roosters, scoring over 80 tries.