Supposedly interviews for the head coach’s position at the Emirates Western Force will be taking place in the coming week and one of the men in the frame is former Ireland coach Eddie O’Sullivan. This would be a massive boost for the Western Force who one has to say have been perennial underachievers.
One does have to wonder however how all of the candidates are going to feel about the recruitment that has been done prior to their appointment. Most would have looked at the current playing squad and the structure at the club and would have formed ideas on who they would want to keep, who they would let go and how they would like to structure the club.
Whereas it is encouraging to see players such as Ben McCalman, Alfie Mafi and Richard Brown resigning for the Force, as well as some promising new players such as returning Wallaby Sam Norton-Knight, South African Sias Ebersohn and Australian sevens player Junior Rasolea, it may leave the new coach very little room to maneuvre in terms of bringing in players he knows and trusts.
The problem with signing players without the input of a new coach always gives him a ‘get-out of jail free card’ for that first season. He can turn around and state that he did not sign these players, he inherited them and they were not able to play the style of rugby he wished to play. One can only hope that the board has in fact already been liaising with the candidates and obtaining input before signing the new recruits. If not the Force’s loyal supporters could face another season where the team is slowly gelling, rather than firing from round one.
There is nothing worse than when administrators start to think they know what players are needed at a club and sign them without the coach’s input. Many other codes of football have suffered because of this.
It is also strange that the club should re-sign forwards coach Nick Stiles. This is not a criticism of Stiles abilities, but once again a new coach likes to be supported by people he knows and trusts. Frequently coaches who inherit their back room staff do not achieve what they should because there is a lack of honesty and frankness, which is essential behind close doors as they all take time to work each other out. Now the new coach will have to accept one of his key supporting roles has already been filled.
Then there is still the issue over club captain David Pocock and whether he is staying or leaving. Should he leave the board will need to take a good hard look at how they let the captain and the players dictate terms over the resignation of coach Richard Graham and force them to do a backflip. If he does opt to leave after they allowed this to happen one has to question their leadership at board level and whether they truly are the right people to be carrying the Force into the future.
If he wants to go, maybe he should leave, as a club is always bigger than one individual. Yes, he is immensely talented, but if he no longer wishes to pull on the jersey, then why stand in his way and try and make him change his mind?