Western Force flanker Chris Alcock is confident of the side's Super Rugby chances
Chris Alcock believes the Western Force could be the "dark horses" of this season's Super Rugby campaign.
By Tony Curtis - Follow me on Twitter @SkysportsTC
Last Updated: 13/02/13 2:20pm
The Perth franchise endured a torrid 2012 season as they finished bottom of the Australian Conference - with only the now-relegated Lions finishing below them in the overall standings. On top of that, their coach Richard Graham departed midway through the season after announcing he would be moving to the Reds.
However Alcock is one of a number of new faces to team up with the Force in the off-season, with former Waratahs boss Michael Foley taking over the reins as head coach.
Sias Ebersohn, Alby Mathewson, Hugh McMeniman, Ed Stubbs and Sam Norton-Knight are among the other notable arrivals - while 14 players have moved on, including David Pocock, Nathan Sharpe, Rory Sidey, James Stannard and Cameron Shepherd.
And despite the wholesale changes, the 24-year-old Alcock is confident of the side's chances heading in to the new campaign.
"As a team we are gelling well," Alcock told Sky Sports. "Most of the players know each other from either playing at the same clubs or from playing against one another. But we have really developed over the course of pre-season.
"We've a really good chance. This team hasn't any out and out stars. What it has got is 35 guys who want to work hard and prove themselves and I think that is crucial.
"No one knows how we will play and no one knows our strengths so in some ways that makes us the dark horses. If we can get a good run going I think we will have a good shot at winning the Australian Conference."
Alcock opted to make the switch to the Force having spent the past three seasons at the Waratahs, where he made 25 appearances.
And the South African-born flanker is relishing the chance to be part of the new dawn at the Force and working alongside his mentor Foley once again.
"There are a couple of reasons why I made the move," said Alcock.
"Largely, though, it was the opportunity to be part of what is essentially a new team and playing a role in its development.
"I know the coach, too and I really enjoy working with him, while I know some of the guys here and they are good blokes.
"'Foles' was the one who selected me out of grade rugby so I have worked with him my whole professional career. He has worked on helping me develop as a player."