The Western Force have appointed former assistant Dave Wessels as senior coach for the next two Super Rugby seasons, while skipper Matt Hodgson is on the verge of re-signing.
Wessels replaces Michael Foley, who was sacked in June following the club’s disastrous 2016 campaign.
At 33 years of age, Wessels is the youngest current coach in Super ranks, but he has vast experience of the Force after spending the past four years there.
It’s believed the strong support of the Force player group had a key role in getting Wessels over the line, along with his intimate knowledge of the challenges facing the Perth-based franchise.
Wessels will be charged with helping transform a squad that has already lost key players Kyle Godwin, Alby Mathewson, Nathan Charles, Steve Mafi, and Chris Alcock.
Wessels started his professional coaching career in 2008 when he became a defence consultant at the Stormers.
He also spent time at the University of Cape Town and the Brumbies, before linking up with the Force in 2013.
Wessels said despite his young age, he was ready for a senior coaching role.
“In this job, it’s the opposite of the Benjamin Button effect,” Wessels said.
“So you age a lot quicker than normal. So by the end of next week, I’ll be in my mid-50s, and no one will bring it up again.
“I’ve lived the breathed the unique challenges the Force faces.
“I’ve been part of trying to overcome those challenges in the last couple of years, and I have some ideas of how we may do that going forward.”
Hodgson’s future was up in the air once Foley was sacked.
But Force chief executive Mark Sinderberry says the 35-year-old will play on next season, and will also be offered a role as part of the club’s coaching staff in the coming years.