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Published: Friday July 2, 2010 MYT 11:07:00 AM

Richard Graham to coach Western Force

PERTH, Australia: Wallabies skills coach Richard Graham will succeed John Mitchell as coach of the Perth-based Western Force starting from the 2012 Super 15 rugby tournament.

The promotion of Graham, 37, who is currently the Force's assistant coach, was announced Friday by franchise chief executive Vern Reid.

Reid said Graham had made a significant contribution to the Force since joining the team this year as Mitchell's deputy and backs coach.

Graham is a former Queensland Reds fullback and Australian sevens captain.

Former All Blacks coach Mitchell, who has coached the Force since 2006, announced during this year's Super 14 that he would step down when his current contract ended.

"Richard is an exceptional leader and rugby tactician who has a proven ability to nurture and create an environment where players can excel," Reid said.

"We have the utmost confidence that the timing of Richard's appointment will enable a seamless transition not often afforded to professional sporting organizations, and one which will prove to be a significant benefit in our planning going forward."

Graham said he was looking forward to having one more year under both Wallabies coach Robbie Deans and Mitchell before beginning his career as Force coach.

"I'm delighted to be given this opportunity and feel as though it is the right time to be making the next step in my progression as a professional coach," he said.

"I've been fortunate to have worked under five international coaches and certainly think I have done a worthy apprenticeship." - AP

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