The Western Force enters a new era in 2023 as they continue to push for a finals spot.New coach Simon Cron has brought in a host of experienced faces after the departure of stalwarts Richard Kahui, Jeremy Thrush and Greg Holmes amongst others.CLICK HERE TO GET YOUR EARLY BIRD AND HOSPITALITY TICKETS FOR THE HSBC SYDNEY SEVENSThe rejuvenation of the roster has the club poised as one of the dark horses of Super Rugby Pacific if they bring last year's form into 2023.With this in mind, looks at the five key talking points for the Western Force heading into 2023.1.New eraSimon Cron finally gets a chance at a Super Rugby head job as he returns from Japan, eager to take the Force to the next level.After missing out on the Waratahs head coaching job a number of years ago, Cron has picked up valuable experience under All Blacks legend Steve Hansen and will have to start strong to galvanise fan support after the departure of club favourite Tim Sampson.His influence has already been seen during the off-season, bolstering their roster with quality, experienced players from across the country and overseas.The Force showed they could match it with quality teams towards the end of 2022, beating Moana Pasifika and the Hurricanes in the space of four days.Early games against the Rebels, Moana, and Highlanders will give a good idea of where they stand compared to other finals hopefuls.2. Chance to shineHamish Stewart heads west looking to showcase his ability as a flyhalf.The Reds enforcer has made a name for himself at inside centre, however, finds himself hungry to test himself in his preferred position, having been stuck behind James O'Connor.Stewart is arguably the best defensive flyhalf in the country by far, providing a unique point of difference with the position still wide open at the national level.The 24-year-old gets a chance to showcase his attacking flair, with Chiefs flyer Chase Tiatia joining Manasa Mataele and Toni Pulu in an explosive backline.3. Developing an edgeIf the Force wishes to push for a finals spot, they have to learn how to win the close one.The tempo was set in the opening round last year when they let the win slip in Canberra thanks to a 78th-minute try to Lachlan Lonergan.They lost five out of seven games that finished within seven points, including letting a golden opportunity go to waste against the Blues as they attacked their line late for 20+ phases.If they can turn just one or two of these into wins, they'll find themselves in a good spot heading into the crunch period of the season.4. Sending a reminderIzack Rodda will be looking for a strong season in order to force his way back into the national set-up.A foot injury kept him out of the entirety of the Test calendar, allowing the likes of Nick Frost and Cadeyrn Neville to stake their World Cup claims.Rodda is integral to the Force's hopes in 2023 and another strong season will all but ensure his return to gold.

5. Hooker dilemma The most intriguing positioning battle for the Force comes at hooker as Simon Cron weighs up two quality options.Folau Fainga'a joins the club on a one-year deal after leaving the ACT Brumbies and will be desperate to secure his spot at the World Cup.However, club captain Feleti Kaitu'u has his own ambitions after making his International debut in 2021, motivated to rebound after finishing the season on the bench.With Fainga'a heading to France at the end of the year, Cron will have a tough decision to make about who gets the starting job.If it's Fainga'a, who captains the side? Ian Prior is potentially in a similar position behind Issak Fines-Leleiwasa whilst new recruit Wells has plenty of captaincy experience at Super Rugby levelClick Here: rc toulon rugby jersey

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