'Interesting' times at Western Force
FOLLOWING the Western Force's sacking of Richard "the Spindle" Graham, it has taken on a very, let's say, "interesting" coaching structure for the rest of the season.
Certainly, I've never come across anything similar in my research or experience.
What the Force has devised is a coaching panel of five, made up of three coaches and two leading players. How so, well, egalitarian and inclusive.
From what I can ascertain, Phil Blake is the 'leader' of the panel, with Nick Stiles and Andrew Scotney making up the coaches, with David Pocock and Nathan Sharpe the current players on the panel.
Now, I'm not bagging this structure at all. Many contemporary rugby programs have tangible input from players as part of an overall development of corporate managing structures in professional sport.
One that comes to mind is the Brumbies. Remembering that player power worked very well early on in the Brumbies existence, but asymmetric player power over recent years has derailed their progress.
David Nucifora (2004), prior to taking them to the Super title, mind you, and Andy Friend (2011) have both been shown the door at the nation's capital as a result of directly taking on player power .
It's interesting that success is coming the Brumbies' way this season with a foreign coach, a strong South African coach, for that matter.
But the Force is not the Brumbies. And I do think it can work. What is not an issue is the fact they can't do any worse, sitting at 12th place on the ladder.
For the coaching panel to work, the agendas of the coaching section and the player section must be aligned. And, of course, egos must be neutral and they all must be working toward the ultimate goal; winning footy games. And, it would appear obvious, but the coaching section must be thinking 'as one' and be strong of will.
No doubt we'll all be taking a keen interest in how the dynamics of the coaching panel plays out as we progress throughout the season. And it'll be very interesting to see if it does, indeed, have a positive impact on their performance. Also, I'm guessing many a management expert/academic will be following their progress.
WHILST on a coaching theme, the Wallaby coaching group was finalised during the week. And with the in-bound test matches just around the corner, it's quite timely.
Yes, believe it or not, Aussie Dingo Deans is still top dog, with Jim Williams (forwards) and Phil Blake (defence and other 'stuff') axed, and David Nucifora moving back to head the High-Performance Unit. That offers opportunities for three new positions: Tony McGahan (coaching co-ordinator), Andrew Blades (set-piece and restarts) and Nick Scrivener (skills) to join Dingo Deans and Patricio Noriega (general forward support).
With the growth in specialised coaching roles and increased complexity of the game it would appear that Dingo is the sole backs/attack coach - quite a bit for one bloke. Now, you may sense a slight negativity toward Deans, and yes, I think we are all underwhelmed from Wallaby results under him.
Now, to the future.
Will we see Ewen 'the Link' McKenzie, taking the Wallaby spot soon?
Well, that's a possibility, but I've received some mail from a reputable source that David Nucifora will be right up in there when names are discussed. Remember, you heard it here, first.