Super Rugby
Graham to quit Force for Reds
ESPNscrum Staff
April 16, 2012
Western Force coach Richard Graham, Western Force training session, UWA Sports Park, Pert, Austraila, January 10, 2011
Force boss Richard Graham will join the Reds' coaching ranks next season © Getty Images

Western Force head coach Richard Graham has revealed he will leave the Perth-based side at the end of the season to join Super Rugby rivals the Reds.

Graham, who is in his second year as head coach of the Force, will take on a senior role at the Reds with current boss Ewen McKenzie poised to become director of coaching. The shock move has also increased speculation that the Reds are bracing themselves for McKenzie's departure after Australian Rugby Union boss confirmed last week that he was a strong candidate to succeed current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans when his contract expires at the end of next year.

A former Reds player and a coach at English sides Bath and Saracens, Graham served as an assistant to Deans in 2009 and became John Mitchell's assistant at the Force the following year. The Force currently prop up the Australian Super Rugby conference having recorded just two victories this season - one of which came against the current champions - the Reds.

In a statement, Graham thanked the Force for the opportunity to coach at Super Rugby level and insisted he remained committed to achieving the best possible return from the current campaign.

"The Emirates Western Force and RugbyWA gave me an opportunity to undertake my first full-time head coaching position and I'll forever be grateful for that. Perth is a wonderful place to live and play rugby and I will have no hesitation in telling that to anyone who asks me," Graham said in the statement.

"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 Emirates Western Force. 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."

Force chief executive Vern Reid has already begun his hunt for a replacement with his preference being an Australian coach. He said: "It is our preference to find an outstanding Australian coach either currently working overseas or in Australia to be Richards replacement however we will look at every possibility to recruit the best credentialed coach that is available in world rugby."

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

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