Dane Haylett-Petty says the ARU would be ‘crazy’ to axe the Force, amid continued uncertainty over Super Rugby’s future.
Haylett-Petty committed to the Force and the Wallabies until 2019, the club announced on Tuesday, in a vital show of confidence for the WA franchise.
The 27-year-old is one of five Force players, along with Ben McCalman, Luke Morahan, Jono Lance and Adam Coleman, who featured in the Wallabies fold last year, and was adamant about the side’s value.
“I think when the Force came in, it was all about growing Wallabies and I think throughout the years they've definitely done that,” he said.
“They've produced plenty of great Wallabies and added to Australian rugby so I think it'd be crazy to let go of a team like that.”
It appears that the Force or the Brumbies would be the teams most likely under the pump should SANZAAR agree to a modified 16-team competition when the executive meets next month, with the ARU board unable to guarantee the future of the five Australian franchises.
The Force has moved to shore up its financial future, with a $1.5 million-a-season sponsorship with the WA Road Safety Commission and an 'Own the Force' fan campaign.
Haylett-Petty has played all his Super Rugby at the Force, with an intervening three-season stint with French team Biarritz, and turned down European offers to stay in Perth.
“I took a different path but I always knew that I wanted to come home and play at home and I get to play with my brother and some of my best friends,” he said.
“I love playing here and hopefully it will be around for many years to come. - Dane Haylett-Petty
“I suppose for us we're hopeful and all we can do is see all the work that the boys are doing, all the work that's going on behind the scenes and I think seeing the club moving forward, no matter what, has given me that faith (that it has a future) and I'm happy to back them.”
The Force have recruited hard in their backline especially through the 2017 preseason and Haylett-Petty predicted they would be underestimated by their opponents.
“I think the nice thing is that teams won't expect too much from us, so we'll be a bit of a surprise packet,” he said.
“We've added a lot of depth - most depth we've had, boys fighting through preseason for positions and we've got some great coaches in from Europe and with some great ideas so it's pretty exciting.”
Haylett-Petty is expected to slot back into his usual fullback for the Force, despite ensconcing himself on the wing for the Wallabies, a return he’s happy about.
“I actually enjoyed the end of last year once I got a bit more comfortable with wing, so pretty happy either place at the moment,” he said.
“It’ll be good to get back to fullback in Super Rugby, get a little bit more ball.”
The Force take on the Waratahs at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 7:45pm AEDT.