Belfast Telegraph

Home Sport Rugby

Force confident Pocock will stay

Western Force chief executive Vern Reid is adamant the shock departure of head coach Richard Graham will not hurt the club's chances of retaining Australia flanker David Pocock.

Graham stunned the rugby community by announcing his decision to quit the Force at the end of 2012 to take over from Ewen McKenzie at Queensland, with the current Reds coach to take up a backroom role.

Reid said: "In the time since I've spoken to David about the change in the coach for next year, he hasn't come to me and expressed any particular great concern... about his progress with us going forward."

While Reid said the club would begin looking for a replacement coach as soon as possible, the battle to retain the out-of-contract Force captain shapes as their most important of the coming months.

The Melbourne Rebels have been linked to Pocock, although they have strongly rejected those claims, while he would also be likely to attract the attention of many other clubs if the Force struggled to retain him.

But Reid revealed the Force have already been negotiating with Pocock, who has won 40 Test caps despite being just 23, and would be willing to let him have a say in the selection of a replacement coach and recruiting for next season.

He added: "David's major ambition is to be part of that group of players that we recruit going ahead. David enjoys Perth. He will be taking an increased role in the recruitment of players in the next two months."

Reid revealed he and general manager of rugby Mitch Hardy would take control of recruitment and retention of players, although they would still seek Graham's counsel on those decisions in a process that has already begun.

He said: "We're also looking at a couple of international players that we are looking to recruit. It is the end to the rugby season in the northern hemisphere and there are a number of players being offered to us to make that transition into Super Rugby next year."

The Force have two available overseas spots for next season as marquee Fijian winger Napolioni Nalaga is out of contract and Willie Ripia's spot has not been filled after he was sacked.


From Belfast Telegraph