Shocked Western Force stars say players believe the fight to save their Super Rugby team is not over and they’ll stick tight till it’s settled.
Dane Haylett-Petty and lock Adam Coleman revealed the feelings of the six-strong Force contingent in the Wallabies squad and others in the wake of the Australian Rugby Union decision to axe their Perth-based Super Rugby franchise.
“I suppose it’s mixed emotions,” said Haylett-Petty on Monday as the Wallabies prepared for their Bledisloe Cup opener against the All Blacks in Sydney on Saturday.
“I’m angry, confused, disappointed, but as a group we’re really sticking tight and the process is not done yet.
‘There’s a lot of people back home still fighting the good fight and we believe in all the administrators at RugbyWA.”
His comments came shortly after Rugby WA gained an injunction order against the ARU decision while waiting to learn if it will be granted leave to appeal it in the NSW Supreme Court.
Coleman reinforced the united approach of the Force players and stressed he wouldn’t be committing to another Super Rugby team until a definitive decision was made on the Force’s future.
“I’ve been there for four years now and I’ve poured my soul into the club,” Coleman said
“It’s very much a part of me and I’m sure that everyone else that has played for the jersey feels the same way. So I think however long it takes we’ll just wait.
“I think a lot of the fans and a lot of the players are still in shock at the moment.
“I personally think the fight is not over yet and Dane believes that too and so does the rest of the WA rugby community.”
Haylett-Petty emphasised he would not bear a grudge against any uncontracted Force player who looked elsewhere for their future in the meantime.
“I don’t think you could ever hold it against anyone for looking after themselves and there may be a few boys in that situation,” Haylett-Petty said.
‘”But I think hopefully this is resolved in the next few weeks and from chatting with a lot of the boys, the boys are willing to stay tight to the end.”
Haylett-Petty was disappointed by talk some people might boycott the Wallabies’ Perth Test against South Africa, but happier with another suggestion others would show support for rugby in WA by attending the game in Force blue.
Force back Alex Newsome, who has re-signed with the club, said he would have liked more transparency in how the decision to cut the franchise was was reached.
“I heard (ARU CEO) Bill Pulver say they did an exhaustive analysis on all the finances, but as a rugby fan myself, I suppose fans don’t get to see that analysis,”Newsome told Fox Sports.
The Force’s plight has even touched the All Blacks.
‘You’ve got to feel for the Force and how that’s gone,” New Zealand fullback Ben Smith said in Sydney.