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Graham exits the Force in shock decision

Date

Simon White

Coach Richard Graham (right) is departing at season's end but keeping David Pocock will be a priority for the Western Force.

Coach Richard Graham (right) is departing at season's end but keeping David Pocock will be a priority for the Western Force.

Western Force coach Richard Graham will quit the club at season's end and take up a position with the Queensland Reds.

Graham's shock departure announcement today will mean the Force - currently last of the Australian Super Rugby sides with two wins from eight games - will enter next season with a third head coach in the space of eight years.

The Force, which was informed of Graham's decision a "short time" ago says it is already casting the net far and wide to find its new coach.

"We are firmly of the view that the head coaching position at the Western Force is a prestigious role, not only in the Super Rugby competition but globally,” RugbyWA CEO Vern Reid said.

Graham's contract was up for renewal at the end of this season but he instead opted to take up an offer from last year's Super Rugby champions, the Reds.

"Purely from a personal standing as a career coach I felt it was something I needed to do but I wish to make it clear that it is in no way a reflection on RugbyWA or the Western Force," Graham said.

"I intend to do everything I can to make the back half of our season a successful one and there will be no distractions in my desire to achieve finals for the club in 2012."

While Graham will coach on to the end of the season, there will be one immediate change at the Force, with current rugby general manager Mitch Hardy and Reid to handle all recruitment and retention duties.

The Force's most immediate priority entering the off-season is to hang on to Wallabies star and captain David Pocock, who is reportedly a recruiting target of the Melbourne Rebels.

Graham took over the reins of the Force from John Mitchell for the 2011 season.

The Force won five of 18 games last season with two draws and could not hang on to another prized asset James O'Connor, who made the switch to the Melbourne Rebels.

It has been reported Graham will succeed Ewen McKenzie as Reds coach.

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