He waited eight years for his first Test chance and now Wallabies and Western Force back Dane Haylett-Petty wants more, re-signing with Australian rugby until the end of 2019.
Haylett-Petty had reportedly been sounded out by French clubs for a European return, after a three-season stint with Biarritz between 2010 and 2013, but opted to stay home.
The deal will take him through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, after a 2016 season where he proved his Wallabies credentials, featuring in 14 Tests.
“I’m very excited to be staying home and playing for the Force, obviously the draw card of trying to get back into that Wallabies team was a large part of my decision,” he said.
“I really enjoyed last year, the challenges week in and week out, watching my game grow and the Force were a big part of that and I feel like we’re really heading in the right direction and we have a great group of young men with a bright future.”
The future of the Force franchise is still uncertain, with SANZAAR heads to meet next month to discuss the competition format beyond 2018.
Haylett-Petty’s re-signing is a much-needed show of faith in the Force’s viability, amid the club’s moves to shore up its financial future, an element that will feature heavily in discussions about its longevity.
Coach Dave Wessels said retaining the fullback was a crucial vote of confidence for the team.
“This is fantastic news for Australian Rugby and the club too,” he said.
“Importantly for us is that Dane is a local player and everybody in Western Australia is proud of what he achieved this year.
“Although, I think more than that, with the club’s future in question for a player of his calibre to commit himself so publicly to us, just shows Dane’s character and how much he cares for this club and wants to see it succeed.” - Dave Wessels
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika said Haylett-Petty could build on his breakout 2016.
“Dane’s performances in 2016 spoke for themselves and our desire for him to stay and play in Australia show how much we value him as a player,” he said.
"We know that his best is yet to come and we will be working hard with Dane in 2017 to ensure that he achieves the goals he's set out for the next few years.”