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Force's unclear future a worry for players

NZN 3/04/2017 Justin Chadwick

Wallabies winger Dane Haylett-Petty senses something special is building at the Western Force, but admits the uncertainty of the franchise's future is starting to affect some players.

The Force are in grave danger of being axed from the Super Rugby competition if South Africa's rugby union agrees to cut two of its own franchises.

The uncertainty is starting to create some worries amongst Force players as they fear for their futures.

So far, the players have held up admirably, putting in a brave display in last week's 24-15 loss to the Blues in Auckland.

But Haylett-Petty admits the outside distractions have been tough to deal with.

"Last week was probably the first time where you could see it was affecting a few of the boys," Haylett-Petty said.

"It was the first time the pressure really came on the Force.

"It definitely influences a few of the boys. But everyone handled it quite well.

"The tough thing is each week there's been a new report of something that's being leaked. Two weeks before it was the Rebels and the Brumbies and then last week it was the Force.

"Things are just popping up because there's all this uncertainty surrounding it.

"At the moment we can't really count on any information that's coming out. We'll have to wait and see what happens."

The Force are aiming to raise between $5 million to $10 million through their 'Own the Force' campaign, where the franchise hopes to sell at least 5000 shares.

Each share will be sold for $1000, but the Force is still waiting for final approval from the Australian Securities and Investments Commission before being able to put the shares up for sale.

The Force have never made the finals since their inception in 2006 and it's unlikely they'll break that trend this year.

But Haylett-Petty predicts a bright future for the franchise if they are able to survive the axe.

Newcomers Curtis Rona, Billy Meakes, Chance Peni, Isi Naisarani and Alex Newsome have shown plenty of promise, while Wallabies forwards Tatafu Polota-Nau and Ben Daley have also been key acquisitions.

"We're definitely building something," Haylett-Petty said.

"We know just how talented the squad is and how much more depth we've had than any other year.

"A lot of the starting guys on the weekend have only got a handful of caps and they're already performing.

"It's exciting times, and definitely an exciting future ahead (if the Force survive)."

The Force have a chance to improve their 1-4 record when they take on the struggling Kings at nib Stadium on Sunday.

Skipper Ben McCalman will have to pass a fitness test on his troublesome thumb this week if he is to be given the all-clear to return.

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