Super Rugby

Unsettling times for the Force ahead of ARU takeover




Western Force half-back Alby Mathewson has admitted that the Perth Super Rugby franchise is going through some difficult times ahead of a looming Australian Rugby Union takeover.

Mathewson says that it is an especially difficult time for the Western Force players who are coming off contract so don’t know where their future lies.

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The Australian Rugby Union look set to take over the running of the Perth Super Rugby franchise in a bid to turnaround the team’s financial woes.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver visited the team earlier this week in order to sort out some of the final details and the deal is expected to be signed off sometime next week.

Under the new structure it is expected that the Force’s football program is likely to go untouched but senior officials such as chief executive Mark Sinderberry will report to the ARU.

Mathewson is one of a number of players who will come off contract and the 30-year-old former All Black admitted that it is unsettling not knowing what is going on.

Western Force head coach Michael Foley is contracted to the end of the season and his position is in serious doubt as the team has only managed two wins this season.

“I know there’s a few boys off contract, and it effects everyone differently,” Mathewson told AAP.

“The ARU talked to us a couple of days ago. Bill Pulver was over here trying to shed some light on the situation.

“Hopefully in the next week or so there’s a lot more clarity, because there’s quite a few other players wondering what’s going on with that sort of stuff.”

Mathewson’s position is more unique that the rest of his team-mates as he joined the franchise as their international marquee player which meant he could stay for two years.

However in 2014 the ARU granted him special permission to remain with the Force for two more years and he is hoping that they will extend that permission for another two years.

“I’ve been here for four years now, so I’m pretty settled,” Mathewson said.

“But I understand the way rugby works with contracts and moving around. So I’ll just have to wait and see.”

The Force play the Rebels this weekend on Sunday and will be without first-five options Luke Burton (foot), and Ian Prior (knee) while team captain Matt Hodgson has been ruled out for the season with a shoulder injury.

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