O'Connor and Stiles appointed interim Reds coaches

Richard Graham has been removed as Queensland Reds head coach, to be replaced by Nick Stiles and Matt O’Connor for the remainder of 2016.

Graham has been released from his contract by the Reds after three seasons at the club’s helm, with 14 rounds left in the 2016 Super Rugby season.

Stiles has been the Reds forwards coach since 2014, an area in which the club has shown strong foundations in recent times.

The new co-mentor has also led NRC side Brisbane City to back-to-back titles in the provincial competition.

O’Connor came on board at Ballymore as attack coach at the end of the 2015 season, after a stint as head coach of Irish side Leinster.

The interim pair will both be invited to apply for the head coaching position once the Reds begin a worldwide search for the 2017 coach, something that the club says could take up to six months.

Graham voiced his disappointment at the decision but said he was aware of the cut-throat nature of the sporting arena.

“I’m naturally disappointed,” the Reds statement read.

“I loved my role with the Reds and enjoyed my time with the QRU.

“I am in a high-performance environment and the results haven’t been to a satisfactory standard. I have to accept that and move on.”

New QRU chairman Damien Frawley thanked Graham for his work at the club.

“Richard is a proud Queenslander who has spent his life in Rugby and while he hasn’t achieved the success we all would have wished for during his time as head coach, he leaves with our gratitude for his service to the game,” he said.

Frawley said he believed the club had made enough changes since an all-encompassing review last season to support the co-coaching structure for the rest of 2016.

“QRU conducted a high-performance review in the middle of last year and as a result implemented significant change across our Rugby department,” he said.

“At that time the Board made the decision to reappoint Richard as head coach for a year, but we always said there would be periods within the 2016 Super Rugby season where we would take stock of how the team was performing.

“We believe, through our high-performance review process, we have implemented the necessary changes to support both interim head coaches during the 2016 season and whoever takes on the head coach role in 2017.”

QRU CEO Jim Carmichael praised Graham for his ability to accept the decision on Monday.

“As he has done through his time at QRU, Richard handled this difficult decision with characteristic humility and stoicism,” he said.

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