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Graham forces his way back to Reds


Justin Chadwick, Jim Morton

The Queensland Reds will boast the equivalent of a coaching dream team next season after the shock decision of Richard Graham to quit his Super Rugby post at the Western Force.

Graham will see out the season with the Force before taking up the head coaching gig at Queensland, with Reds' title-winning coach Ewen McKenzie to move into a director of coaching role.

While Graham's decision is a major boost for Queensland rugby, it comes at a sensitive time for the Force, who are desperately trying to re-sign out-of-contract flanker David Pocock.

McKenzie will spend one year in the director of coaching role before making the transition to Queensland Rugby's inaugural director of rugby position in 2014 and beyond.

Although the QRU's plans have been six months in the making, the latest movements will no doubt spark speculation McKenzie is priming himself for a move into the Wallabies' coaching ranks as early as next year.

Just last week, Australian Rugby Union boss John O'Neill declared McKenzie as the obvious successor to current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, whose future beyond 2013 remains up in the air.

McKenzie will work closely with Graham next year to ensure the 39-year-old's smooth transition.

In 2014, McKenzie will turn his attention to more broader issues, including the redevelopment of Ballymore and driving growth and development in the community game. The 46-year-old will also maintain a role in setting the direction of the Reds.

Graham, a former Reds fullback who was raised in Queensland, admitted it was a tough decision to leave the struggling Force after two years at the helm. But the 39-year-old said the opportunity to return to a ''rugby-strong state'' and his home after 10 years away coaching overseas and interstate was too enticing to knock back.

''I wish to make it clear that it is in no way a reflection on RugbyWA or the Emirates Western Force,'' he said in a statement.

''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.''

Graham has enjoyed little luck since taking over from John Mitchell as Force coach at the end of 2010.

A glut of injuries in his first year saw the Force finish 12th with five wins, two draws and nine losses.

They have enjoyed a slightly better run on the injury front this year. But the pre-season resignation of first-choice flyhalf Willie Ripia, after he was caught stealing from teammates, left the Force in the lurch. They have since struggled to two wins from eight games.

Graham fronted the player group yesterday to inform them of his decision. Force chief executive Vern Reid believed Graham's defection wouldn't influence Pocock's decision on whether to re-sign.

The Force are pulling out all stops to keep the star 23-year-old, with Pocock to be consulted over recruitment and also possible replacements for Graham.

Reid admitted Graham's departure was a blow, but revealed he had already canvassed possible coaching replacements over recent weeks.

''For us, we would prefer an Australian coach,'' Reid said.

''But clearly, if there is a better coach than an Australian coach either coaching in Australia or overseas, then we would look for the best possible option so that we can continue to strengthen our position in Super Rugby.'' AAP

HuffPost Australia

Rugby World Cup 2015

Round 1
Sat, 19 SepTimes shown AEST
ENG 35vs FJI 11 Report Stats
TGA 10vs GEO 17 Report Stats
IRE 50vs CAN 7 Report Stats
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 32vs JPN 34 Report Stats
FRA 32vs ITA 10 Report Stats
SAM 25vs USA 16 Report Stats
WAL 54vs URU 9 Report Stats
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 26vs ARG 16 Report Stats
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 45vs JPN 10 Report Stats
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 28vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 38vs ROM 11 Report Stats
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 58vs NAM 14 Report Stats
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 54vs GEO 9 Report Stats
ITA 23vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 46vs SAM 6 Report Stats
ENG 25vs WAL 28 Report Stats
AUS 65vs URU 3 Report Stats
SCO 39vs USA 16 Report Stats
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 44vs ROM 10 Report Stats
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 35vs NAM 21 Report Stats
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 23vs FJI 13 Report Stats
FRA 41vs CAN 18 Report Stats
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 43vs GEO 10 Report Stats
SAM 5vs JPN 26 Report Stats
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 34vs SCO 16 Report Stats
ENG 13vs AUS 33 Report Stats
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 45vs TGA 16 Report Stats
IRE 16vs ITA 9 Report Stats
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 15vs ROM 17 Report Stats
FJI 47vs URU 15 Report Stats
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 64vs USA 0 Report Stats
NAM 16vs GEO 17 Stats
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 47vs TGA 9 Report Stats
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 33vs SCO 36 Report Stats
AUS 15vs WAL 6 Report Stats
ENG 60vs URU 3 Stats
ARG 64vs NAM 19 Report Stats
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 32vs ROM 22 Report Stats
FRA 9vs IRE 24 Report Stats
USA 18vs JPN 28 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 23vs WAL 19 Stats
NZL 62vs FRA 13 Report Stats
IRE 20vs ARG 43 Report Stats
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
AUS 35vs SCO 34 Stats
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 18vs NZL 20 Stats
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 15vs AUS 29 Stats
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 24vs ARG 13 Stats
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
NZL 34vs AUS 17 Stats
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 4 4 0 0 106 17
Wales 4 3 1 0 49 13
England 4 2 2 0 58 11
Fiji 4 1 3 0 -17 5
Uruguay 4 0 4 0 -196 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
South Africa 4 3 1 0 120 16
Scotland 4 3 1 0 43 14
Japan 4 3 1 0 -2 12
Samoa 4 1 3 0 -55 6
USA 4 0 4 0 -106 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
New Zealand 4 4 0 0 125 19
Argentina 4 3 1 0 109 15
Georgia 4 2 2 0 -70 8
Tonga 4 1 3 0 -60 6
Namibia 4 0 4 0 -104 1
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Ireland 4 4 0 0 99 18
France 4 3 1 0 57 14
Italy 4 2 2 0 -14 10
Romania 4 1 3 0 -69 4
Canada 4 0 4 0 -73 2
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