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Graham forces his way back to Reds

Date

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 -1vs FJI -1 05:00Twic
TGA 0vs GEO 0 21:00Kholm
IRE 0vs CAN 0 23:30MilS
Sun, 20 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs JPN 0 01:45Brig
FRA 0vs ITA 0 05:00Twic
SAM 0vs USA 0 21:00Brig
WAL 0vs URU 0 23:30MilS
Mon, 21 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs ARG 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 23 SepTimes shown AEST
SCO 0vs JPN 0 23:30Kholm
Thu, 24 SepTimes shown AEST
AUS 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs ROM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Fri, 25 SepTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs NAM 0 05:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sat, 26 SepTimes shown AEST
ARG 0vs GEO 0 01:45Kholm
ITA 0vs CAN 0 23:30Ella
Sun, 27 SepTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SAM 0 01:45Villa
ENG 0vs WAL 0 05:00Twic
AUS 0vs URU 0 21:00Villa
SCO 0vs USA 0 23:30Ella
Mon, 28 SepTimes shown AEST
IRE 0vs ROM 0 01:45Wemb
Wed, 30 SepTimes shown AEST
TGA 0vs NAM 0 01:45Sand
Fri, 02 OctTimes shown AEST
WAL 0vs FJI 0 01:45MilS
FRA 0vs CAN 0 05:00stadium:mk
Sat, 03 OctTimes shown AEST
NZL 0vs GEO 0 05:00MilS
SAM 0vs JPN 0 23:30stadium:mk
Sun, 04 OctTimes shown AEST
SAF 0vs SCO 0 01:45St James' Park
ENG 0vs AUS 0 06:00Twic
Mon, 05 OctTimes shown AEDT
ARG 0vs TGA 0 00:30KPS
IRE 0vs ITA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Wed, 07 OctTimes shown AEDT
CAN 0vs ROM 0 02:45KPS
FJI 0vs URU 0 06:00stadium:mk
Thu, 08 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAF 0vs USA 0 02:45The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
NAM 0vs GEO 0 06:00Sand
Sat, 10 OctTimes shown AEDT
NZL 0vs TGA 0 06:00St James' Park
Sun, 11 OctTimes shown AEDT
SAM 0vs SCO 0 00:30St James' Park
AUS 0vs WAL 0 02:45Twic
ENG 0vs URU 0 06:00Manch
ARG 0vs NAM 0 22:00KPS
Mon, 12 OctTimes shown AEDT
ITA 0vs ROM 0 00:30Sand
FRA 0vs IRE 0 02:45MilS
USA 0vs JPN 0 06:00Kholm
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sun, 18 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinB 0vs RUpA 0 02:00Twic
WinC 0vs RUpD 0 06:00MilS
WinD 0vs RUpC 0 23:00MilS
Mon, 19 OctTimes shown AEDT
WinA 0vs RUpB 0 02:00Twic
Sun, 25 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF1 0vs WQF2 0 02:00Twic
Mon, 26 OctTimes shown AEDT
WQF3 0vs WQF4 0 03:00Twic
Sat, 31 OctTimes shown AEDT
LSF1 0vs LSF2 0 07:00The Stadium, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park
Sun, 01 NovTimes shown AEDT
WSF1 0vs WSF2 0 03:00Twic
View All Fixtures
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
France 0 0 0 0 0 0
New Zealand 0 0 0 0 0 0
Canada 0 0 0 0 0 0
Tonga 0 0 0 0 0 0
Japan 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Romania 0 0 0 0 0 0
Argentina 0 0 0 0 0 0
England 0 0 0 0 0 0
Georgia 0 0 0 0 0 0
Scotland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Australia 0 0 0 0 0 0
USA 0 0 0 0 0 0
Italy 0 0 0 0 0 0
Ireland 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
Rugby World Cup 2015
Overall standings
Team P W L D +/- Pts
Fiji 0 0 0 0 0 0
Samoa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Namibia 0 0 0 0 0 0
South Africa 0 0 0 0 0 0
Wales 0 0 0 0 0 0
View all
 

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