The Emirates Western Force has recruited a world-class panel of preeminent experts to form its coaching staff for the 2013 Super Rugby season. Former Bath Rugby European Challenge Cup-winning Head Coach Steve Meehan and former Queensland Reds strategist Phillip Fowler will link with the Perth-based side for 2013.
The pair joins Head Coach Michael Foley and Forwards Coach Nick Stiles as the brains trust for the Western Australian province. Former NSW Waratahs General Manager Rugby and Wallabies Assistant Manager Chris Webb will also join the Emirates Western Force to oversee the province’s entire professional program as General Manager High Performance.
Foley says the new coaching staff will help kick-start a new era for the Emirates Western Force.
“Relaunching this side is more than just a new playing roster, it’s about a new approach to Emirates Western Force rugby,” he said.
“We didn’t want to restrict ourselves in terms of who we were approaching and targeting, and have intentionally identified experts with a proven record in getting results.
“We’ve engaged some of the best in the business to join us for 2013. We’ve drawn a line in the sand for this season and, given we’ll run out a new-look side, it was essential that we assembled a coaching staff that would not only provide insight into the game but will assist to develop our players and the group as a whole.
“We said that we were going to recruit the best attack coach available and that’s exactly what we’ve done. With our focus on attacking and dynamic rugby, we’re fortunate to bring in someone with the experience and expertise of Steve [Meehan]. His record at Stade Français and Bath speaks for itself; he was able to implement a game style that players loved playing, that fans loved watching and that ultimately brought success. We have a similar goal for the side in 2013.
“Chook [Fowler] was one of the masterminds behind the Reds success over the past few years as well as being sought out by the Wallabies, All Blacks and Springboks across four World Cups. He brings a great deal to the table not only through his strategic approach to rugby, but also being able to guide the players through the psychological aspects of the game as well.
“Finally, there aren’t too many managers in rugby with the experience and knowledge that Chris has. Chris will play a vital role in providing a holistic and integrated approach to our rugby program that encompasses the entire RugbyWA organisation and WA rugby community. He’s one of the best in the game and it’s reassuring to know that every aspect of the High Performance Department will operate like clockwork under him, allowing us to focus on creating the change necessary to bring success.
“There’s no doubt that we’re all on the same page in not only wanting to implement change to build a winning culture for the Emirates Western Force but ensuring that we put systems and a culture in place that can sustain the long-term success of the side.”
RugbyWA Chairman Russel Perry says this is part of a ‘wall of change’ for the Emirates Western Force.
“This is a time of significant change for the club,” he said. “We know our final standing over the past few seasons has been unacceptable and significant actions were required to see us become a force in this competition.
“In investing in this new coaching and management staff, we are looking towards the development, improvement and extended success of the Emirates Western Force.
“Michael has a clear plan for the development of this side over the next three years. The appointment of a first-rate coaching group, combined with a new playing roster for 2013, is part of a continuous improvement approach across the board for the club. This is a significant component of creating an exciting new era for the Emirates Western Force.
“We will be announcing further changes over the next several weeks that will give our members and supporters confidence about the future.”
Steve Meehan joins the Emirates Western Force as Backs/Attack Coach, having spent five seasons in charge of English Premiership club, Bath. Under his reign, Bath was widely acknowledged as having the best integrated attack in the English Premiership, courtesy of their expansive, offloading, attacking rugby, leading to their undefeated European Challenge Cup campaign in 2007/08 that culminated in their 24-16 win over Worcester in the final.
While Bath finished ninth and scored just 38 tries in the season prior to Meehan’s appointment (2006/07), he developed the side into a regular English Premiership finals contender – finishing in the top four on three occasions – and averaging 48 tries per season across his five-year tenure.
Meehan began his coaching career in Queensland before spending three successful seasons as Assistant Coach with Stade Français. During this time the Parisian club reached the final of the French Championship for three consecutive years, beating Toulouse (32-18) in 2002/03 and Perpignan (38-20) in 2003/04, while losing to Biarritz Olympique (37-34) in extra time during the 2004/05. Stade Français also finished runner-up to Toulouse (18-12) in the 2005 Heineken Cup final.
Phillip Fowler – acknowledged as one of the brilliant rugby minds – was a key contributor to the resurgence of the Queensland Reds, with his input towards devising game plans a key component to the Reds’ Super Rugby title in 2011.
The New Zealand-born strategist has played a role in four Rugby World Cup campaigns, with the respective sides qualifying for the final on each occasion. These have included positions with the Wallabies (1991) and South Africa (2007) in their successful Rugby World Cup campaigns, and New Zealand and Australia when they finished runners-up in 1995 and 2003 respectively.
While he joins the Emirates Western Force as a Rugby Strategist, he is also a registered psychologist and has utilised these skills around mental skill development and psychological pressure. Most recently this included assisting Reds flyhalf Mike Harris to break a Super Rugby goal-kicking record, on his way to 24 consecutive goals.