The Force will not take part in the 2018 Brisbane Tens, competition organisers have announced.
Uncertainty surrounding the quality of players the club would have fielded at the tournament has been quoted as the reason for removing the Western Australian outfit, with Samoa also bowing out due to their current financial predicament.
Fiji will be the sole Pacific Island representation in the 12 team men's draw, which will feature all nine Australian and New Zealand Super Rugby sides, as well as French Top 14 side Pau and Japan's Panasonic Wild Knights.
"We tried extremely hard to find a way to continue to include a team from Western Australia in next year’s tournament,” Brisbane Global Rugby Tens CEO Rachael Carroll said."Sadly, during negotiations with several parties it became clear that we would not be able to guarantee that a West Australian team would be able to meet the player quality obligations of a Super Rugby side.
"Given the timeframe – and the financial uncertainty facing Samoan rugby at this point – it became clear that the best way to ensure the tournament’s integrity was to have a 12-team men’s draw in 2018.
"Both the Western Force and Samoa added great value to this year’s Brisbane Global Rugby Tens and we would gladly welcome them back in future years.
DID YOU KNOW 👉🏼 French powerhouse @SectionPaloise will be joining the lineup at the #BrisbaneTens this summer, with former All Blacks Conrad Smith & Colin Slade taking to the field.— Brisbane Global Tens (@BrisbaneTens) November 28, 2017
📆 Fri 9 & Sat 10 Feb, 2018
🎟️ https://t.co/NR5M7b6903 pic.twitter.com/MBRGVPKdyJ
"For 2018, Fiji has accepted an invitation to fly the flag for Pacific rugby at the tournament."
While two men's teams are dropping out, two women's teams have been added to the draw.
Queensland and NSW squared off three times in the inaugural tournament but in 2018 the Rebels and Brumbies will feature, too.
"Following on from the huge popularity of the Queensland v NSW women’s series this year, we have been able to double the number of women’s teams competing in 2018," Carroll said.
"I’m personally thrilled about that.
"Women’s sport – and women’s rugby in particular – is riding a wave in Australia and it is great that this tournament can showcase that."
The men’s draw will now feature three pools of four teams, eliminating crossover matches that were a touch confusing in this year's tournament.
The four women’s teams will play a full round robin, with the top two teams squaring off in the final.
The Global Brisbane Tens kick off on February 9 at Suncorp Stadium. Buy tickets here.