By Lee Stace
THE FORCE will need to think long and hard about who they appoint as their next head coach, as failure to do so could spell big problems for the already-struggling franchise.
The Perth-based outfit is searching for a new mentor after Richard Graham (above) earlier this week dropped a bombshell by confirming rumours that he will link up with the Reds next year.
His defection has the potential to cause a knock-on effect that could spell trouble. Big trouble. The kind a team like the Force might not be able to recover from.
Graham’s departure two years ahead of schedule follows the announcement earlier in 2012 that veteran lock Nathan Sharpe will retire at the end of the Super Rugby season.
The decision by these two gentlemen to wave goodbye could see star Wallaby flanker and Force captain David Pocock follow them out the door.
The man they call ‘BamBam’ has yet to re-sign with the franchise and now faces a dilemma of staying in Western Australia or joining the Reds or Melbourne Rebels, two sides he has been linked to.
Losing Sharpe is one thing, but losing Pocock is another. It would be a massive blow for the Force; a dagger through their heart given that they also parted ways with utility back James O’Connor at the end of last season.
That is why the appointment of a coach – and a quality one at that – is crucial. It could well be the difference between Pocock deciding to stay or leaving for greener pastures.
Force chief executive Vern Reid said the search has already commenced and that Pocock and the other senior players would be consulted during the process. He is after an Australian candidate and has thrown up Michael Cheika and Andy Friend as possible candidates.
But whoever is chosen must be respected and have a good rapport with Pocock, otherwise he could be the next high-profile star to leave Perth. The franchise could fall apart if that happens.
The pressure is on the Force to get it right. The question is: will they?
With the series level, expect both teams to put it all on the line as they seek to win the deciding test in Sydney on Saturday night.