Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is adamant backline ace Dane Haylett-Petty won't be lost to Australian rugby if the Western Force get the chop from Super Rugby.
The Durban-born, Perth-raised 27-year-old is on record as saying he'll only play for the Force or head overseas if the ARU opts to cut the WA franchise over the Melbourne Rebels.
But Cheika on Thursday said Haylett-Petty was contracted to the ARU for 2018 and must honour that deal.
The influential Wallabies mentor doesn't suspect he'll need to play hardball with the 13-Test winger.
"He can stay in Perth and get paid if he doesn't want to leave," Cheika said.
"(But) I can't imagine he doesn't want to play Super Rugby ... who's not going to want to play footy?
"Dane's signed to play here. He'd have to have a clearance from us and we want Dane to be playing here.
"He's a great player; came to promise last year and we're hoping that he's going to build right through until the (2019) World Cup as well."
Nor is Cheika concerned too many players from either the Force or Rebels would be left without a home when the ARU makes its call on which will be the Australian franchise cut loose in 2018 under SANZAAR's restructuring back to a 15-team competition.
Taking into account the "natural 15 per cent attrition (rate) of players leaving, retiring, not being re-signed in a normal year", Cheika estimated only a handful of players not being accommodated by the NSW Waratahs, Queensland Reds, Brumbies and either the Force or Rebels, depending on who survives.
The national coach promised those players left in contract limbo following the ARU's axing of the Force or Rebels would have their futures settled swiftly.
"No one wants to play in the unknown," Cheika said."No one's going to be told to go anywhere."
Cheika and ARU high-performance chief Ben Whitaker will sit down individually with every affected player.
"The idea is that we try to make sure that everyone comes out in the best situation as they can," Cheika said.
"That's important to me because, even at the national team level, apart from the players, that doubt can have a knock-on effect into performances etc.
"When I say performances, I don't think it has an effect on tackling people or catching balls or catching kicks, more the mental side."
Cheika said in the event of any player he considered a future Wallaby not being picked up by an Australian Super Rugby club, he'd quickly step in and sign them to an ARU contract."
And we'll worry about that later. We don't have the opportunity to let out good players go. We're losing too many players overseas for the financial reason," Cheika said.
"Especially the younger market, which we're targeting now, because we want the younger players to come through now."
We understand that we don't have as many resources (as Europe and Japan) and we've got to make sure our good players make it.
"And that will help our market place all round because then, when our top-end players getting huge offers from overseas and they might start considering them, we've got young players who might come and fill those voids.
"We've got to go down that road."
Cheika said there were pros and cons for reducing Australian teams from five to four, with less players getting exposure to Super Rugby but more money being invested at grassroots level.