The Western Force hope to carry the momentum of their last three games of the Super Rugby season into next year, optimistic about the progress they’ve made.
The Perth-based club ended the 2016 campaign with 24-10 defeat to the Australian conference-winning Brumbies in Canberra on Saturday night.
They finished bottom of the local ladder behind the Queensland Reds with a 2-12 win-loss record.
It’s been a season to forget for the financially-stricken Force, who were taken over by the ARU last month, had coach Michael Foley sacked shortly after and a number of misbehaving players while on tour in South Africa.
They are due to name a full-time replacement for Foley within the next month, but interim coach Dave Wessels – keen to throw his hat into the ring for the job – is positive about what lies ahead.
“For us, we feel like it’s the start of a journey,” he said.
“We quite radically tried to change our game at the start of this year and it’s not totally evident to everybody but we’re certainly making progress in a lot of key areas.
“So for us to just throw the baby out with the bath water would be silly.
“We want to keep going and that’s certainly been the message from the playing group.
“Whoever is leading us, I don’t think that will change. We want to keep going.”
Wessels felt the Force’s game moved forward against the Brumbies, whom they kept scoreless in the second half.
It followed a solid attacking display in their 30-29 loss to the Cheetahs a fortnight ago and defensive effort in going down 22-3 to the Stormers last Saturday.
“The past three weeks we’ve improved every week,” added winger Luke Morahan.
“We put it to the Brumbies, physically and tactically, so I think that’s a lot to take and lead us into next season.
“Our character and our fight … building on that is where we need to go.”