Eye contact the start for Hayward to join Force
Jayden Hayward at Force yesterday. Pic: Bill Hatto/WA News

The arrival of former Highlanders and Hurricanes centre Jayden Hayward at the Western Force can be traced back to a chance meeting of eyes three years ago.

Hayward was in Perth having lunch with his Highlanders teammates in 2009 when he happened to glance out the window.

It was with that gaze he first saw his future wife.

"We just sort of made eye contact, but I didn't really think much of it," Hayward recalled yesterday after signing on with the Force as the club's second overseas development player.

"But after the game I went out with the team and I bumped into her, and it all started from there."

After struggling for game time at the Hurricanes last season, Hayward felt the time was right to make a fresh start.

And with his wife Ana eager to return to Perth, where she had previously lived for five years, the decision to join the Force was easy.

Hayward's ability to play inside or outside centre gives the Force vital flexibility in the make-up of their back line.

"His passing and running game is strong, but he also has a good eye for space," Force coach Michael Foley said of the 25-year-old.

"He can use the kick to regain possession."

Hayward's arrival completes the Force's 30-man roster, although one more player will be signed to their extended playing squad of five.

The Force have revamped their back line since their doomed 2012 campaign when they only narrowly avoided the wooden spoon.

Former Cheetahs fly-half Sias Ebersohn, Junior Rasolea, Sam Norton-Knight, Ed Stubbs, Hayward and Chris Tuatara-Morrison are among the new arrivals, along with 26-year-old Kiwi Alby Mathewson.

Perhaps the most intriguing question is whether Brett Sheehan or Mathewson will get the nod at scrum-half. Foley doesn't yet have the answer, but it's a question he'll ponder over the next few months as he runs his charges through a typically gruelling pre-season.

"It definitely will be a battle. All good nines have that type of personality anyway," Foley said.

"We are extremely lucky to have two international nines. Nine is the position that touches the ball more than any other.

"Temperament at nine and 10 is critical. I can think of any number of nines and 10s that have a complete skill set and physically they're good. But when the pressure really comes on, their decision making fails them.

"So temperament will be very important - making the right decision at the key times"

The West Australian

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