Brisbane - Force coach Richard Graham
will leave the Perth-based team at the end of the Super Rugby season
to become head coach of defending champion Reds.
"The Force and Rugby (West Australia) gave me an opportunity to
undertake my first full-time head coaching position and I'll forever be
grateful for that," the former Reds fullback and Wallabies assistant
coach said on Monday.
"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."
Queensland-raised Graham will take over at
the Reds from Super Rugby-winning coach Ewen McKenzie who is expected to
become the franchise's director of coaching. McKenzie is also expected
to become Wallabies head coach when Robbie Deans steps down next year.
Force share last place in the Australia conference of the Super Rugby but
have beaten the Reds and Waratahs in recent matches.
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 (Force) in 2012," Graham said.
replaced New Zealander John Mitchell as Force coach before the 2011
season, is contracted until 2014, but will be released to take up the
Force chief executive Vern Reid said the franchise would prefer a local replacement.
is our preference to find an outstanding Australian coach either
currently working overseas or in Australia to be Richard's replacement,"
"However, we will look at every possibility to recruit the best-credentialed coach that is available in world rugby."