The West

Foley the driving force for change
Michael Foley. Pic: Getty Images

Just two years ago, the Western Force were the model example for underachievement.

Every excuse for losing had been well and truly used up and they had even invented a few new ones along the way.

For most in the Eastern States, the Force had become irrelevant, nothing more than a pleasant stopover on the way to South Africa.

The club was in crisis mode on and off the field. Poor results, falling crowds and no coach.

Questions were being asked if the Force had a future in the competition.

Enter Michael Foley.

He quickly got to work and, to use one his favourite phrases, "ripped in".

He had long discussions with the club's powerbrokers about the state of the squad, previous player signings and future recruitment.

He culled players who were happy to pick up a nice pay packet and do just enough to coast their way through their final days in Australian rugby before heading off into the sunset. Others who did not meet Foley's standards were shown the door.

The Force were eclipsed 47-25 by the Brumbies in Canberra on Friday night, dashing the Perth side's bid for a maiden Super Rugby finals appearance.

"When I arrived it was almost like there were 10 commandments of why we lose," Foley said.

"There was we never start well, we never finish well, we never win our third game, we never win at home, we have a losing culture.

"I can rattle those things off because I cannot believe how many times I heard those things said by different people.

"I sat back and thought 'this story has been handed on from one person to another and rattled off after each loss, therefore it's inevitable'.

"They had allowed, or the club had allowed itself, to get to a point where it had so much negative rhetoric around it that it had infected people's minds.

"In the past, because of the negative rhetoric, it was easier to buy into anything that was said and move and ebb and flow with the tide of commentary. Our guys have now broken the shackles of what I saw as a self-fulfilling prophecy and negative talk."

Foley coined the phrase "relaunch" for his first season. In truth, it was a more of a splutter than a season on the afterburners.

This year the side played under his new tags - belief and attitude. The latter was even stitched into the neckline of their playing jumpers.

"One of the things our guys have been good at is redefining ourselves," Foley said.

"The only way we're going to be able to do that was to do things we had not done before, to try and behave differently, to see ourselves in a different way.

"In 18 months these guys have shaken off extremely entrenched views, maybe there are some still lingering in some dark recesses, but it's been shaken and they have come out for their best-ever season."

When I arrived it was almost like there were 10 commandments of why we lose."Michael Foley

The West Australian

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