The West

Stars helped to lure Foley
Western Force's new director of rugby Michael Foley with his skipper Matt Hodgson. Pic: Bill Hatto/WA News

Influential Western Force squad members played a big role in luring new coach Michael Foley from the NSW Waratahs.

Several players, including veteran Wallaby second-rower Nathan Sharpe, had lobbied hard for Foley after word of unrest at the Waratahs culminated in the board demanding a review weeks before the season was over.

The Force offered Foley, 45, the new director of rugby role to give him both hands-on coaching and a behind-the-scenes position developing off-field rugby programs.

The attraction of the three-year contract in a unique job and having a large say on who will be his head coach at the Force became too much to resist.

"One of the players I know here particularly well spoke to me during the season around the time that the Tahs had asked to review me," Foley said. "He said 'would you be interested if they (Waratahs) kicked you out?'. I said it would be hard to say I wouldn't.

"The thought grew in my mind from there, getting a deeper understanding of what the role was, the sort of players you would be working with, weighing up a few things."

The appointment of the head coach, who will also be backs and attack coach, is almost the final piece of the Foley jigsaw after Wallabies flanker Matt Hodgson was yesterday chosen as club captain. He is expected to lead the side as team captain next season.

Former Force foundation assistant coach John Mulvihill is thought to be high on the list for head coach along with former Bath coach Steve Meehan.

"We'll go to the market place and look for someone with a track record," Foley said.

"We need somebody with experience and definitely a proven track record. Getting the best guy in that position is going to be pretty critical."

Foley said he had anguished over the decision to leave the Tahs but was now keen for the new challenge and had his first team development meeting yesterday. "It's uniquely different to what I was doing at the Tahs," he said.

"The Tahs was very much on the field only. The Force will involve both aspects to the role. It's an exciting opportunity to build a program around the team.

"I'm responsible for the outcomes. The thing I want is success for the team."

He has about six squad spots still available and one priority will be to improve his back line strike power.

"I've got some ideas. There are some obvious holes. Getting the blend of experience and young players is crucial," he said.

"We need somebody with experience and definitely a proven track record." " New Western Force director of rugby *Michael Foley *

The West Australian

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