Winning is the only way Queensland Reds coach Richard Graham will get the haters off his back, and he knows it.
Possibly the only coach who could be described as ’embattled’ before the season has even started, Graham is back in the Reds hotseat after the team kicked off their 2016 pre-season preparations this week.
Graham put on a stoic front on Tuesday afternoon as he faced media for the first time since his controversial re-appointment as coach back in August.
Supporters went into an apoplectic fit when he was given the job for another 12 months, having been forced to re-apply for his own job after a wide-ranging high performance review by the Queensland Rugby Union.
“My position’s been clear since August, that’s how I’ve approached these last three or four months – with a lot of certainty,” said Graham, who flanked by assistant coaches Nick Stiles and new arrival Matt O’Connor.
“But I understand sport’s about winning.”
Graham said he knows exactly what he is walking into and is ready to withstand the intense scrutiny that will come directly his way when Super Rugby returns next year.
“There’s always pressure at the start of the season,” he said.
“But I understand I’m at the head of the organisation and the pressure comes directly to me.
“We’ve made a really good start to it, we’ve got a clear direction and looking forward to the next nine or 10 weeks.”
Graham, who has just a 28 per cent winning record as a Super Rugby coach, said he could understand the frustration of Reds fans.
“I think we were all frustrated,” he said.
“When you’re sitting at the back end of the table there’s a fair bit of frustration.
“There were a lot of things last year in terms of the injuries and so forth where we just struggled to get a little bit of momentum and consistency.
“Right here and now the expectation is improvement. We don’t want to be sitting where we are at the moment, we want to be better than where we’ve been.”