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Force are taking the Mickey out

Fri, 14 Feb 2014 07:38
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From cricket to rugby in a flash
Quote-end

Dumped Australia cricket coach Mickey Arthur landed a new job on Friday, as head of Western Force Super Rugby team's development programme.

His main task would be to identify and nurture fresh talent.

Arthur, who also left the South African cricket coaching job under acrimonious circumstances, was ousted from the Aussie job just before the start of the Ashes series in England last year - with two years left on his contract.

He said he was excited to be involved with the Perth-based team.

"Having had an interest in rugby over a long period of time, it's very exciting to be involved with a programme like this," he said.

"Perth is a dynamic, wonderful place to live with a growing appetite for rugby, and this opportunity will excite a lot of young players not only in Perth and Australia but around the world."

He said his role would involve "providing a holistic programme - rugby, education and careers advice as well as social introductions - for those hungry for an opportunity and wishing to live their rugby dreams".

"Perth is now home for a large number of people with a rugby background and we've already had a lot of interest and support for this program in Perth."

As well as nurturing home-grown talent, the "Future Force" programme will also attempt identify young players from abroad, and relocate them to Perth.

"Our first priority is growing the game in Western Australia and the primary objective of the Future Force programme is to broaden our rugby base here in the state," said RugbyWA chief Mark Sinderberry.

Sinderberry added the franchise would commit an extra AU$500,000 annually to the program.

"We're certainly a state that's faced with a number of unique challenges predominantly by virtue of our isolation, and that requires us to take a different approach with regard to a number of our operations, including recruitment.

"This program is about accelerating the number of home-grown or home nurtured products through to the elite level and we believe we can do this by identifying outstanding young players early and weaving them into the fabric of our club rugby and local communities.

"We envisage that we'd receive between five and 10 players into the program in the first 12 months and between 10 and 15 after that. These players would be evenly distributed amongst our local clubs with a view to seeing them progress into the Force ranks after a few years."

Arthur was hired as Australia's cricket coach in 2011, but was sacked after the team lost a Test series in India 0-4 and followed it up with a poor showing at the Champions Trophy in England.

The South African sued Cricket Australia for his job back or up to AU$4 million (US$3.7 million), claiming there was a deliberate campaign against him and he had no choice but to take legal action.

The two sides reached an undisclosed settlement.

The 'Future Force' programme will identify outstanding local players and relocate talented young athletes to Perth, and fast-track their development through a full-time program that addresses the players' physical, rugby and vocational requirements.

Through the program, players will be integrated into the local rugby and broader communities.

The injection of gifted players from outside Western Australia will assist to continue to raise the level of club rugby in the state, with a view to seeing more local players progress to the Western Force.

The Future Force continues the Western Force's focus on promoting local talent with the 2014 extended squad featuring a record eight players - including Kieran Longbottom (Rockingham), Kyle Godwin (Associates), Zack Holmes (Associates), Dane Haylett-Petty (Cottesloe), Luke Burton (UWA), Ryan Louwrens (Cottesloe), Ollie Hoskins (Cottesloe) and Brad Lacey (Wests Scarborough).

This has been complemented by the Western Force's recruitment of New Zealand and South African players following player concessions from the Australian Rugby Union.

This innovative recruitment strategy has enabled the Force to move away from a reliance on the east coast-based Australian player pool.

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