The Western Force have announced that wing Luke Morahan and utility forward Ross Haylett-Petty have signed new deals with the Perth-based outfit.
Morahan – who has re-signed for one year with the option of a second – was the club’s leading try scorer in 2015 (five tries) and brings with him a wealth of experience, having played seven seasons and 68 matches of Super Rugby, been a long-term representative in the Australia Sevens side, as well as having played one Test for the Wallabies.
“I’m really excited about where the club’s heading and it made it a very easy decision to re-sign,” Morahan told the Western Force's official website.
“I’ve enjoyed my last two years here, we’ve got a great and very committed group of people here that are all working very hard towards a common goal.
“Over the past few years we’ve been growing and gaining valuable experience as a squad. We’ve got a lot of young guys that have been given opportunities and we’ve now added a few new signings that bring further competition within the team. We know that we can compete with the best backlines in the competition, but to now have that additional depth and added experience within our backline is a significant benefit to us as a team.
“Personally, I had an injury setback [hamstring] last year, which was made easier because we were doing well. This year, I was really happy to get a full season under my belt – which was the first time in a few years I’d been able to do that in any team. It was great to be able to get a few tries this year which is something I’m really keen to do over the next period, as well as playing as consistently as I can.
“We’ve done a lot of work reviewing last season; we’ve had a lot of hard discussions but they’ve been very productive and we’re all very focused now on looking forward.
"What we’ve been working on and how we’ve trained over the last two months already has me very excited about what we can do as a team next season.”
Western Force head coach Michael Foley said Morahan has developed into a key attacking threat within the Force backline.
“Luke has done well since he’s been at the club, including being our top try scorer this year,” he said.
“What’s most exciting is that he is yet to reach his full potential. He has the skill set to play both back three and centre, which will become an integral part of the way we’ll play in 2016.
“The way he’s tackling his preparation for the 2016 season is allowing him to be a strong role model within the squad.”
Rising young lock/back-row Ross Haylett-Petty will remain with the Force for a further two seasons.
The locally-produced tall forward made his Super Rugby debut in 2015, initially coming off the bench against the Stormers, in his first of two appearances for the season.
His maiden Super Rugby season followed in the wake of a number of standout performances for the Australian U20 squad in the 2014 IRB Junior World Championship in New Zealand, several strong displays for the Perth Spirit in last year’s National Rugby Championship, as well as helping guide Cottesloe to a grand final appearance in the 2014 Pindan Premier Grade.
Haylett-Petty, who has joined brother and full-back Dane in staying at the Force through to the end of the 2017 season, said he wasn’t keen to look elsewhere for continuing his rugby development.
“It feels great to be back on board for the next two years and it’s good to know that the club sees me as being part of its future,” he explained.
“Personally, this is the club I want to be at and, to be honest, there’s no other club I wanted to play for. It’s great to get that confirmation that the Force has faith in me and that I’m proceeding in the right direction.
“I learnt a lot in my first season with the Force. I know there’s still a lot of my game I need to work on and the guys here are fantastic to give you that guidance.
"I know that if you continue to put yourself out there, you can learn a lot from the players and coaches here. I just want to keep putting in the work and soaking up the knowledge of the guys here and keep doing what I can to make myself a better player.”
Haylett-Petty is very pleased to be staying at the Force with his brother.
“I want to stay in Perth; my whole life is here, including my family and friends,” he added.
“It’s fantastic playing with Dane. He’s someone that’s willing to teach me a lot and he’s very honest in providing feedback on how I’m playing and training. He’s been an awesome influence on my rugby so far.”
Foley said Haylett-Petty is hard-working forward who will be pushing hard for further representation in the Force match day squad in 2016.
“Ross is a local junior, who played Australian U20’s as a number eight, but has the physicality to also play at lock,” he said.
“He’s working on his lineout management and repeat efforts during the NRC competition, which will allow him to increase his impact in games, and it’s fantastic to have him continue his development with us over the next two seasons.”