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Force still in Super Rugby limbo

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 7/04/2017 Justin Chadwick

Western Force coach Dave Wessels has a gut feeling his team will escape the chop as the South African Rugby Union (SARU) continues to drag its feet over the future of the Super Rugby competition.

The Force were reportedly set to be axed in a reduced 15-team Super competition - but only if SARU agreed to cut two of its franchises.

However, SARU is yet to make a decision on that front, with the issue not even on its agenda at last Thursday's general meeting in South Africa.

The board of the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) are reportedly set to meet on Sunday to prepare for a vote on a 15-team Super competition.

ARU will then hold a formal meeting on Monday, where a vote could take place.

The uncertainty of the future of the competition has caused chaos in rugby circles in South Africa and Australia.

Wessels believes the longer the indecision drags on, the more chance his team will have of surviving.

"I've got to say my gut feeling is that the news is going to be good for us," Wessels said.

"It's not an easy solution because there's a huge amount of parties involved, and it's very complex.

"It might be too complex. That gives us hopefully a stay of execution in some ways, and we'll keep fighting.

"The longer and longer it drags on, there's got to be a point where you're saying a decision for 2018 becomes impossible, because no one will have a chance to react to it."

The Force are working hard behind the scenes in a bid to boost their survival chances.

The franchise launched their 'Own the Force' campaign in an attempt to become Australia's premier publicly-owned club.

Fans can buy shares at $1000 each, with the Force aiming to raise at least $5 million to buy back the licence from the ARU.

The entire Force squad have got behind the campaign, with every player pledging to buy shares.

Veteran Matt Hodgson says the players will pool their money together and buy a large amount of shares in one hit.

And he's urging fans to get on board as well.

"As soon as the idea came out, everyone wanted to be involved," Hodgson said.

"The aim is to keep the Force alive.

"We can only control what we can control, and that's performances on the field.

"And if we can buy in to the Force, hopefully that can keep the Force here for a longer period."

The Force have been bolstered by the return of skipper Ben McCalman for Sunday's clash with the Kings at nib Stadium.

McCalman is yet to play this season after dislocating his thumb, and he'll start on the bench.

Wallabies winger Luke Morahan will miss the match while he attends his sister's wedding, while scrumhalf Ryan Louwrens (knee) is out for the remainder of the season.

Force: Dane Haylett-Petty, Chance Peni, Marcel Brache, Billy Meakes, Alex Newsome, Jono Lance, Michael Ruru, Isi Naisarani, Matt Hodgson (capt), Ross Haylett-Petty, Richie Arnold, Matt Philip, Tetera Faulkner, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Ben Daley. Res: Heath Tessmann,Pek Cowan, Shambeckler Vui, Richard Hardwick, Ben McCalman, Ian Prior, Luke Burton, Curtis Rona.

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