Graham shown the door after Force revolt
Gone ... Richard Graham. Photo: Getty Images
Player power has resulted in the Western Force parting ways with coach Richard Graham, with a three-pronged team to take the reins for the remainder of the Super Rugby season.
Graham was initially slated to see out the season with the Force despite announcing earlier in the week he would join the Queensland Reds as head coach from next year.
A number of Force players were unhappy with the situation, and put pressure on the board to cut ties with Graham before next week’s home clash with the Stormers.
Graham conducted a training session on Friday morning but, just hours later, was told his services were no longer required.
Force defence coach and former rugby league star Phil Blake, who is also skills coach at the Wallabies, will join Nick Stiles and Andrew Scotney on a ‘‘coaching panel’’ for the rest of the season.
Captain David Pocock and club stalwart Nathan Sharpe will also provide ‘‘additional resources’’, according to a Force statement.
The dramatic development only adds to the Force’s woes in what has become a forgettable season.
With eight games remaining, the Force sit last in the Australian conference with just two wins from eight matches.
Force chief executive Vern Reid paid tribute to Graham’s contribution to the franchise after taking over from New Zealander John Mitchell at the end of 2010.
‘‘Richard has given a lot of himself to the Western Force and rugby in WA and, for that, we are grateful,’’ said Reid.
‘‘The ruling by the Board was an eventuality he was prepared for off the back of his announcement earlier in the week.‘‘
We acknowledge his effort and we will part amicably.
’’The Force’s major challenge now is to hang on to out-of-contract flanker Pocock.
While Pocock has enjoyed his time in Perth, it remains to be seen whether the latest dramas surrounding the franchise will influence his decision on where his future will be best served.
Graham shocked the Force earlier this week when he announced he would be linking up with the Reds on a three-year deal.
Current Queensland coach Ewen McKenzie will become the Reds’ coaching director, and will play a pivotal role in helping Graham adjust to his new role.
The Force statement said more than 30 applicants have already put their names forward to become the new head coach next season.