April 21, 2017 2:22pm|
by Justin Chadwick, AAP|
Source: FOX SPORTS
WESTERN Force coach Dave Wessels has revealed a number of his players have already been approached to join rival sides but he hopes they will resist the temptation to jump ship despite the uncertain future of the Super Rugby franchise.
The Force and Rebels are in a two-way battle for survival after the Australian Rugby Union confirmed it would axe one of the sides in a reduced 15-team competition.
With both franchises now threatening legal action against the ARU, the saga doesn’t appear likely to end any time soon.
The Force and Rebels are unable to re-sign any of their non-Wallabies players until a decision on their future is made, leaving them vulnerable to raids from rival sides both domestically and abroad.
Force winger Luke Morahan has already signed on with English side Bristol for next season, while a host of other Force players are also being targeted.
Wessels hopes they will hold off on signing elsewhere.
“All the players I’ve spoken to want to stay,” Wessels said ahead of Saturday night’s clash with the Chiefs in Perth.
“But I also understand they have families and different things that need to be taken care of.
“So what we’ve said is let’s just be honest with each other about those things.
“And some of the players have come and sat with me and said they’ve been approached by other teams and they’re talking to them; but with a view that they want to stay with us.
“We just keep playing the ball that’s delivered to us. I’m not really sure how it’s going to pan out.
“But certainly the sooner things get resolved, the better from that perspective.”
Wessels admits the ongoing saga has been a distraction for his group although he and his players have been blown away by the support shown by the WA public.
“I’ve seen some photos overnight of fans making big banners. It’s pretty special,” Wessels said.
“Their response has really galvanised the players.”
The Force kept their slim finals hopes alive with a win over the Kings before last week’s bye.
And they’ll be aiming to cause a major boilover when they take on the powerful Chiefs at nib Stadium.
They’ll have to do it without a host of big names, however, with star winger Chance Peni and skipper Ben McCalman the latest to join the Force’s bulging injury list.
Peni is set to miss the rest of the season after rupturing his groin, while McCalman will miss at least one game after suffering suspected nerve damage in his shoulder.