The Western Force will be eager to break through into the top eight as they head into 2024 with renewed optimism.

The Force once again narrowly missed out on the finals, losing their last two games to fall short of the eighth-placed Reds.

However, Simon Cron and the club have recruited well and will feel that they can build on the foundations laid down in his debut season in charge.

With this in mind we look at the five key talking points for the Western Force heading into 2024.

1. Make an impact

As mentioned, Simon Cron has recruited very well in the West, bringing some talented and experienced players to the Force with Wallabies Nic White and Ben Donaldson the big names.

White is the ultimate professional and the type of guy who can change a culture for the better.

Meanwhile, Donaldson will be out to prove why he was selected for the World Cup, coming off an inconsistent 2023 season with the Waratahs.

Outside of these two, there are quality signings across the park. Harry Hoopert is a perfect Tom Robertson replacement, coming off an ACL injury whilst Harry Potter and Henry O’Donnell are two backs that can add significant value in 2024.

2. Winging it

When you look at the Force’s roster, it’s deep across the field, except for on the wings.

They have lost Manasa Mataele, Zach Kibirige and Toni Pulu, leaving just Potter and George Poolman as the two recognised wingers.

Chase Tiatia is another option, although spent the majority of 2023 at fullback.

Junior Wallabies standout Ronan Leahy played there during the Cheetahs series and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him elevated to the senior squad after a promising 2023 season.

3. Balancing the playmakers 

In contrast, the Force have an abundance of playmakers and how Cron balances his dynamic stars will be critical to their success.

Donaldson and White are the favourites to start but Issak Fines-Leleiwasa and Max Burey finished the season on fire.

Fines-Leleiwasa will return from the World Cup with a further spring in his step and will feel like he can push former Brumbies teammate White in 2024.

As for Burey, he took his chance amid an injury crisis and will have to fight off the likes of Reesjan Pasiota and Bayley Kuenzle with Hamish Stewart making the inside centre position his own.

There’s a real possibility Donaldson shifts to fullback, allowing the trio to battle it out for the starting spot.

4. Luckless Izack

Izack Rodda will be looking for a strong season in order to force his way back into the national set-up.

If that sentence sounds familiar, it’s because the corresponding article before the 2023 season started the exact same way.

The 27-year-old’s World Cup hopes were dashed after a pair of foot injuries limited him to just 76 minutes in 2023.

In his absence, Jeremy Williams has stepped up excellently and shapes as a real Wallabies bolter but a fit and firing Rodda will add another element to the Force’s squad.

5. Shore up the leaks

This has been the biggest Achilles heel for the Force in the past and the main reason they are yet to play finals in the expanded Super Rugby competition.

The Force conceded over 40 points in six of their nine of their defeats, including letting in 52 against the Rebels and 71 against the Reds.

On top of this, they scored the least amount of points across the season, eight less than the one-win Moana Pasifika.

Despite that, they still found themselves less than a win outside of the top eight. If they can fix these two areas, they can go a long way towards finals in 2024.