Australia winger Drew Mitchell believes that the Western Force are serious contenders for a semi-final spot in the 2008 Super 14 competition.
The Force joined the Super Rugby fraternity for the first time in 2006, when they won the Wooden Spoon after finishing at the bottom of the standings.
The 2007 season, however, was a different story altogether, with the Perth-based side finishing seventh; a more than satisfactory campaign which included two successive victories in South Africa - over the Stormers and eventual champions, the Bulls.
"We just want to keep going in the same direction with the improvement from the first to second year, and hopefully make the semi-finals," Mitchell told Sportal. "Once you are in the semi-finals, it's anyone's game from there."
And Mitchell believes the Force have another advantage - continuity within their ranks, with the team not having changed much since its inception in 2006.
"We are a pretty young squad, but we're starting to get these experiences over the past couple of years and we've started to win those close games," he said. "We can take a lot out of last season, and come the tight situations this season hopefully we come away with a few more wins."
Mitchell, the second-highest try-scorer at the Rugby World Cup, added that he had gained a lot of confidence from his experience in France and was hopeful that the Force could take some of the Wallabies' RWC lessons into the 2008 Super 14.
"The World Cup is the biggest campaign you can go through, and there are quite a few experiences you can take on board," he said. "Losing in the quarter-finals was a massive disappointment, but if we can take anything from that and use it in our game with the Force, hopefully we benefit from it."
And on an individual basis, he added: "If I can keep riding that [confidence] and keep that consistency in the Super 14 hopefully I can keep going forward.
"The result [in the World Cup quater final clash with England] was bitterly disappointing, but we've had a few weeks now to try to forget about it and put it past us. We just need to focus on what's ahead with the Western Force. I've had a pretty good holiday and am now looking forward to getting back into it.
"Nobody was happy with the result, so it will be good to get back out there to play some good quality football in the Super 14 and hopefully get a few wins."