Force coach for Reds

RICHARD Graham dropped a bombshell yesterday when he announced he was coming home.

After 10 years away from Queensland, the 39-year-old Western Force coach, who was born in Charleville, will leave Perth at the end of the season to coach the Reds in 2013.

Reds incumbent Ewen McKenzie has been appointed director of coaching.

McKenzie, who was anointed by Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill as the Wallabies coach-in-waiting last week, is under contract at the Reds until the end of 2014.

Graham was contracted to the Force until 2014 and will see out the remainder of this season.

An early release clause enabled him to take on his new role after spending two years as head coach of the Force.

Graham played fullback for the Reds between 1998 and 2002 as well as Australia A before coaching stints at English clubs Bath and Saracens.

He returned to Australia to assist then Wallabies coach Robbie Deans in 2009 and became John Mitchell's assistant at the Force the following year. Graham has also worked with Michael Foley while at Bath, and Eddie Jones at Saracens.

"[It's] an opportunity to work with Ewen, an opportunity to work with a young side that's already won Super Rugby, an opportunity to go to a rugby strong state," Graham said.

"I've been offered an opportunity and I've taken it."

Queensland Rugby chief executive Jim Carmichael said the decision to unite McKenzie and Graham was about providing the organisation the opportunity to build ongoing excellence for rugby in Queensland.

"Richard is an outstanding leader and coach who has consistently demonstrated his value at fostering a strong culture at a professional football franchise," Carmichael said.


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