Queensland flanker Liam Gill can understand the uproar over Richard Graham’s reappointment but insists the players are behind the besieged Reds coach.
Ex-Wallaby Greg Martin joined the chorus of disapproval over Graham’s surprise re-signing for the 2016 Super Rugby season, saying the Reds were “accepting mediocrity”.
Graham has a woeful 28 per cent winning record after two injury ravaged seasons at the Reds helm.
Gill said he was not surprised by the reaction.
But he believed it was up to the players to spark a Reds revival next year regardless of who was coach for the 2011 champions.
“I can completely understand the shock over the news,” Gill said.
“When you look at a raw stat like that (Graham’s winning record) you can completely understand why they would be upset.
“But I am trying to tell the Queensland public that it will be the players moving this forward, regardless of whatever decision has been made.
“We as players have stood tight and will drive this forward regardless of the decision the board was going to make.”
Asked if he could play under Graham, Gill said: “I have always said I can play under Richard Graham.
“I tried to prove it (by re-signing for another year in June).
“Now we need to get the group binding together and I have every confidence we can do that.”
Despite Graham being forced to re-apply for his position, the Reds opted to overlook more than 20 applicants from around the world and stick with him, reporting to executive general manager Daniel Herbert under a new structure.
Gill said Reds players had no choice but to band together under Graham after finishing 12th in 2014 and 13th this season.
“Richard Graham is our coach next year and the players will be in full support of that,” Gill said.
“We can’t afford to waste another year.
“As a player group we are in full support of what (Reds bosses) Jim Carmichael and Rod McCall do regardless of the process that they go through.
“We just want to fight to get the support back from the Queensland public.”
Martin, a veteran of more than 60 games for Queensland, said Graham’s re-signing “has tested my faith”.
“They’re saying there wasn’t a better applicant … I knew some of the people, there were better applicants,” Martin told Triple M’s Brisbane Grill Team.
“What it says is the QRU … you’re accepting mediocrity.”
Gill said Reds players would not be distracted by the uproar.
“The big thing that we talked about as a player group was not let any outside influences affect us,” he said.
“We have to put everything aside and sort out our on-field operation, that’s what let us down the most as a group (this season).”