With Nathan Sharpe and Matt Giteau not playing, David Pocock led the Emirates Western Force in its opening trial game against the Crusaders and is confident a good season is ahead.

Pocock has emerged as one of the best and most talented openside flankers in the world and at just 20 years of age, looks to be a readymade leader.

He has not let any of the off-field distractions surrounding the club over pre-season get to him and was happy to get the first trial match under way.

"It's good to gauge where you are at this early and we can take quite a bit out of it. We tried three different teams at times to work on different combinations and that showed us the areas we need to work on, and it was good to put some things into practice," Pocock said.

"During this whole pre-season the blokes have just been looking forward to getting back into playing rugby again to do our jobs and let the other stuff take care of itself. From a player's point of view, not too much changed. There's been a lot said in the press, but we just got on with our training, did our work and then went home."

Pocock was also happy to see halfback Josh Valentine make his debut with the WA side and is looking forward to him combining with Giteau and James O'Connor. The return of Cameron Shepherd also boosted everyone's spirits.

"He (Valentine) did really well and brings a lot of sniping around the ruck and he dictated where the forwards went for a bit, so in our next trial it will be good for him to work on his combination with Gits," he said.

"It was great to see Shep out on the park. When he first did it we all thought that he wouldn’t be back in time for the start of Super 14, but he's done really well. He's been working with the physios pretty much non-stop since he did and it's a credit to him."

Pocock is now looking forward to finalising preparations for the 2009 season with the second trial match against the Reds at Ballymore on February 5. He also noticed how much better a sold out Members Equity Stadium was for the spectators in comparison to Subiaco Oval.

"We have to aim for huge improvement. We've been shown what we need to work on before the Reds trial and then another week before taking on the Blues. We expect a big improvement still before the season starts," Pocock said.

"It's so good playing in a stadium like this and it's great to see a lot of blue. They were awesome. Subi still is loud, but the biggest difference is for a spectator, as it's hard to feel the action. In a rectangle stadium you can hear the hits and players talking, so it's a lot better for them."