23 May 2017

Force players on edge over murky future

3:35 pm on 23 May 2017

Western Force veteran Matt Hodgson has revealed some of his teammates have been left mentally shot by the ongoing uncertainty surrounding the franchise's future, and says the situation is also ruining rugby in Australia.

Angus Cottrell of the Western Force shovels out a pass from a breakdown

Angus Cottrell of the Western Force shovels out a pass from a breakdown Photo: PHOTOSPORT

The Australian Rugby Union's announcement that it will axe either the Force or Melbourne Rebels has caused chaos in rugby circles, with the situation now seemingly headed towards the courts as both franchises fight for their survival.

Last week, Rebels assistant coach Morgan Turinui said he feared the constant speculation could be damaging to the mental health of his players.

And Hodgson holds those same fears about the Force, with the 36-year-old becoming somewhat of a confidante for his teammates.

"I talk to people daily about it ... and it's taking its toll on the players, Hodgson said.

"The mental stability of people is being shocked, I think you're seeing that in not only the performance of the two teams, but also in the way they're approaching life at the moment."

Western Force veteran Matt Hodgson

Western Force veteran Matt Hodgson Photo: PHOTOSPORT

With the Force and Rebels unable to re-sign players until a final decision is made, Hodgson fears there could be a mass exodus.

And he would understand if Force players started signing with rival franchises in order to secure their futures.

"It's a tough one, because I love the Force, but I also want to see individuals succeed in the sport they love playing," Hodgson said.

"It's definitely coming to the time now where that signing elsewhere is an option they're going to have to take, because they're going to have to take care of themselves and their family."

He said players don't want to leave but they have to think about their futures because other markets are shutting.

Hodgson will consider playing o n next season if the Force survive.

"The body and the mind is still loving rugby, and the path the Force are taking is a good one," said Hodgson, who has been with the franchise since their first season in 2006.

"So if the option's there, I'll definitely think about it, but there's 34 other blokes I'd rather get jobs for first before myself."

Last week's 55-6 loss to the Highlanders means the Force will need to win at least three - and probably all four - of their remaining games if they are to top the Australian conference.

Hodgson hopes last week's poor display against the Highlanders was nothing more than a blip on the radar, saying the side are determined to bounce back hard against the Reds.

The Melbourne Rebels are still awaiting their fate.

The Melbourne Rebels are still awaiting their fate. Photo: PHOTOSPORT