Where to now for the Western Force?
David Pocock (left) captain of the Western Force and coach Richard Graham. AAP Image/Paul Miller
When Richard Graham signed a three year deal with the Queensland Reds earlier this month, it could have marked the downfall for the Western Force.
It might explain the Force’s poor results this season for fans could easily use this as an excuse for a coach not fully committed to the team. Who knows how long he’s been focussed on himself and his next job as opposed to the task in front of him?
No one had foreseen last week’s departure of Graham, who was contracted to the Force until the end of the 2014 season wearing a 29 percent winning record on his sleeve.
With the tables now turned upside down, the young 39-year-old has been lured over to the defending Super Rugby champions in what has been speculated as part of the club’s long term succession plan with Ewen McKenzie.
“It’s the opportunity to go to a rugby-strong state and a young side that has already won a Super Rugby championship,” Richard Graham said.
In all honesty, how could one expect the players to continue to look up to their leader after publicly announcing his departure for an apparent winning culture and rugby driven state? Talk about a kick in the guts for WA rugby union.
There is a bitter sense of irony in the air too. After all, the Force snatched a number of key Reds squad members during their opening seasons of Super Rugby including ex-captain Nathan Sharpe, Drew Mitchell, and Digby Ioane.
And now, in what could be potentially a future great asset, from the Force’s coaching staff – Richard Graham.
Just how often do we see a formulated futuristic plan across any football code these days anyway?
So what are we to expect now of the Western Force without a mentor in place?
The Force are currently held to a record of seven wins in 24 games in 2011-12 and are now sitting favourites for bottom place of the Australian conference with eight games to go side by side with the Melbourne Rebels.
The Force are yet to be playing the footy they would have liked to with only 181 points clocked up in attack, the fifth lowest in the competition, but still surprisingly higher than the Queensland Reds.
The fact that the Force will struggle to sign any new players, that is to say retain players, until a new coach is brought in is probably the biggest hints of them all – the Force are in turmoil.
And that isn’t their biggest of concerns. The future of Wallabies star and soon to be out of contract Force captain David Pocock now hangs in the balance.
One would imagine that the Western Force will go above and beyond the call of duty to keep him in WA.
But more work still needs to be done. A step forward in rejuvenating the club would be starting the search for a real gem of a coach, who will attract top shelf players from around Australia as well as overseas – another Jake White (if one exists).
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