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ARU need to turn farce into Force

Force press conference12:12

Super Rugby: Western Force coach Michael Foley talks to the media following a loss to the Waratahs.

Sitiveni Mafi of the Force pushes forward during the round nine Super Rugby match between the Force and the Waratahs.

COMMENT JAMIE PANDARAMThe Daily Telegraph

THE ARU is taking over the Western Force, and the first thing they must do is throw the kitchen sink at Todd Blackadder to take over as coach.

Blackadder will step down as Crusaders coach at the end of this season, and has yet to say what his future plans are, although has already been loosely linked to European clubs Harlequins and Munster.

If a chain is only as strong as its weakest link, Australian rugby must finally get serious about turning the farce into a Force, starting with a world-class coach.

Western Force needs to target Todd Blackadder as coach.

Western Force needs to target Todd Blackadder as coach.Source:News Corp Australia

Their current coach Michael Foley has been in charge since 2013 and has won just 30 per cent of his games. He took over after leading the NSW Waratahs to their worst season on record.

The Force have started 2016 disastrously, with one win from seven games, scoring just nine tries while conceding 36. Foley is contracted until the end of 2017 but will be lucky to see out the rest of this year.

Already, Queensland’s Matt O’Connor has been touted as a successor if he does not get the Reds head coaching role for 2017 that he is currently sharing with Nick Styles.

But Blackadder — should he be interested by sunny weather, sandy beaches and immense challenges — must be their No. 1 priority.

While he has yet to win a Super Rugby title, this is his eighth year as a head coach and he has never finished lower than seventh (2015) while every other year taking the Crusaders to a semi-final or grand final.

The Force have never played a finals game since entering Super Rugby in 2006 and are already out of the running this season.

Sitiveni Mafi of the Force pushes forward during the round nine Super Rugby match between the Force and the Waratahs.

Sitiveni Mafi of the Force pushes forward during the round nine Super Rugby match between the Force and the Waratahs.Source:Getty Images

Talented centre Kyle Godwin is looking to move to another franchise to further his chances of becoming a regular Wallaby.

The problem for the Force is their inability to lure top quality players. But without a top quality coach that will always be the case.

The ARU cannot demand that some of their brightest stars join a struggling team and watch their development go backwards — that would be counter-productive and damaging to the Wallabies.

It all starts with the coach.

Richard Graham, who was sacked earlier this year by Queensland, held a 26.5 per cent winning record and Reds players who excelled under Ewen McKenzie and became starting Wallabies digressed under Graham and lost their spots.

By the end of this season, Blackadder might overtake Robbie Deans as the coach with the most number of wins in Super Rugby history.

He could well be lured by rich European clubs and the alluring potential of landing an international gig with one of the home nations in the near future.

But if the ARU does not do all it can to secure Blackadder for their struggling Perth franchise, then what exactly have they learned from a decade of failure?

Western Force coaches

-John Mitchell: 65 games, 37.5% winning record

-Richard Graham: 24 games, 29.2% winning record

-Phil Blake: 8 games, 13% winning record

-Michael Foley: 55 games, 30.9% winning record

Most wins as Super Rugby coach

-Robbie Deans: 89

-Todd Blackadder: 81*

-Ewen McKenzie: 81

-Frans Ludeke: 67

-Colin Cooper: 59

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