Force players in recruiting sights as limbo goes on
Western Force coach Dave Wessels admits player retention is a growing concern under Super Rugby limbo, as his team prepares for its clash with the Chiefs.
The ARU currently has a moratorium out to stop any Australian franchises from signing non-Wallabies players amid the uncertainty, given contracted players from either the Force or the Rebels have been guaranteed security in 2018.
Clubs are able to have informal discussions but no formal agreements can be tabled, leaving fringe players especially looking to overseas to cover their bases.
The Force has already re-signed its highest-profile Wallaby in Dane Haylett-Petty this season, while lock Adam Coleman is believed to have re-signed with the national body but not officially with a franchise.
One of last year’s Force Wallabies, Luke Morahan, has already signed with English club Bristol, though that was before the moratorium kicked in.
Wessels revealed that some of his players had come to him to tell him of opposition approaches, but he was confident most ideally wanted to stay in Perth.
“All the players I’ve talked to want to stay,” he told media on Friday.
“Some of the players have come to me and said they have been approached by other teams and they’re talking to them but with a view they want to stay with us, as and when they’re able to do that
“We’re just going to keep playing the ball that’s delivered to us. I’m not sure how it’s going to pan out but certainly the sooner it gets resolved the better.
”Wessels said staff departures were more concerning under the Super Rugby limbo than a player exodus, with fewer spots for back room employees than on playing rosters.
“I think we’re fortunate in that the players are pretty enthusiastic about everything that’s happening around the team.
“In some ways the staff are more vulnerable than the players and we’ve got some pretty dedicated and special staff.”
As the saga has continued, game days have become an even more welcome event, isolated from the outside noise, Wessels said.
The Force take on the Chiefs on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via radio on RUGBY.com.au.
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