The West

Change the Force had to have
Change the Force had to have

Grahamgate was the start of the crisis that the Western Force had to have. It forced the Super Rugby club to take a long, hard and long-awaited look at itself.

Richard Graham, in his second season as coach, was going to be shown the door at the end of 2012, but the mid-term leaking of his planned defection to the Queens- land Reds and subsequent sacking was a disaster.

And that was just the start of the turbulent times that left the club with a shocking 3-13 win-loss record, their worst since the 2006 foundation year.

Would-be star recruit Will Genia reneged on a verbal deal after more leaks and captain David Pocock packed his bags for the Brumbies, leaving behind angry and disappointed senior management, board members and sponsors who had bent over backwards to accommodate his demands.

Captain Nathan Sharpe retired.

As the miserable season came to an end the club was at rock bottom. With no captain, no coach and seemingly no direction there was growing and genuine concern among some hierarchy that unless dramatic changes were made the Australian Rugby Union would be looking closely at their tenure as a Super club in three years.

It forced everyone at the club from the board through to the management and players to take a long, hard look at themselves.

And so began "The Relaunch".

More changes were made than at any other time in the club's seven years as a huge broom was pushed through the organisation in a desperately needed clean-out.

The long process to find a coach finally ended with Michael Foley moving over from the Waratahs.

Deadwood was thrown on the bonfire.

Fifteen players who were on the books last year have gone. Three - David Harvey, Ben Seymour and Rory Sidey - had their contracts paid out because they were not wanted by Foley.

The Force are unlikely to scale to dizzy heights this season but Foley has some depth and experience in a squad that should start to make inroads for the future.

The West Australian

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