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Billionaire owner's lofty ambitions for turning Western Force into a powerhouse

By AAP
Staunch Force supporter Andrew Forrest

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Incoming Western Force coach Simon Cron says he wouldn’t have bothered jumping on board with the Perth-based franchise if it wasn’t for the lofty ambitions of billionaire owner Andrew Forrest.

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The Force dropped a bombshell this week when they announced they had signed Cron on a two-year deal to replace Tim Sampson at the end of the Super Rugby Pacific season.

Sampson had led the Force to a maiden finals berth in Super Rugby AU last season, but Forrest felt the time was right to make a change.

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Forrest, who saved the Force from extinction when they were axed by Rugby Australia in 2017, has lofty goals for the club.

First, he wants them to become the best team in Australia. Then, the best team in the southern hemisphere.

Finally, he wants the Force to become the best club team in world rugby.

They are ambitious goals that Cron is embracing.

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“If he didn’t say that, I wouldn’t have come,” Cron said.

“You don’t hop on a plane and move your family around to come second.

“So for me, their philosophy is how I like to function. I love that.”

Cron, currently the head coach of Japan Rugby League One club Toyota Verblitz, was first approached by the Force in November.

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Talks progressed steadily from there, but he only made the decision to take up the job after receiving the blessing from former All Blacks coach Steve Hansen.

Hansen is the director of coaching at Verblitz and has mentored Cron over the past three years.

“I saw someone mention the other day about turning down Steve Hansen. Nobody turns down Steve Hansen,” Cron said.

“He’s supportive of whatever I choose to do. He’s been involved in that process over the last few months as well, so (he was) always fully informed.”

Cron says he will think about bringing some Japanese players to the Force.

Verblitz star Kazuki Himeno was a key player for the Highlanders last season, proving the impact that Japanese players can have on the Super Rugby Pacific competition.

“I’ve already had conversations here with the guys at Toyota (Verblitz) about some of our player development, and even what Himeno did at the Highlanders last year,” Cron said.

“There’s definitely players in the Top League here that you look at and think they could do with the opportunity that Himeno got.”

The Force will lose forward Fergus Lee-Warner, flyhalf Jake McIntyre, prop Santiago Medrano, and winger Byron Ralston at the end of the season.

The team will be back in action on April 8 when they host the Melbourne Rebels.

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