21 Apr 2012

Western Force say goodbye to coach mid-season

10:56 am on 21 April 2012

It seems player pressure resulted in the Australian Super Rugby Western Force franchise parting ways with coach Richard Graham after his shock announcement earlier this week that he would join the Queensland Reds as head coach from next year.

Graham was initially going to see out the season with the Force but a number of 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 Friday morning but just hours later was told his services were no longer required.

A Force statement says the side's current 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.

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 and says the ruling by the board was an eventuality he was prepared for off the back of his announcement earlier in the week.