From Nelson to Perth Western Force boss Tony Lewis talkshe f


From Nelson to Perth Western Force boss Tony Lewis talks the future of Super RugbyFrom Nelson to Perth: Western Force boss Tony Lewis talks the future of Super Rugby

Tony Lewis left the Mako last year to become Western Force chief executive.

He spent seven years in charge of the Tasman Mako, overseeing their rise into a dominant force in New Zealand provincial rugby.

Now,having moved to Perth last year,Tony Lewis is chief executive of the Western Force, the Australian Super Rugby team owned by billionaire Andrew Forrest, who saved the team after it was axed from Super Rugby in 2017.

Lewis spoke toStufffor this weeks Back Chat.

The move has been great. I always believe that you have a finite time in a role and I had seven years at Tasman. Miss the place and the friends immeasurably, but Im making new friends and have a really exciting opportunity over here to work in Super Rugby.

The best things are the weather and the beach. Worst things are the snakes and sharks.

What type of boss is Andrew Twiggy Forrest?

Hes a man who empowers you. He lets me get on and do the job, but hes there to offer advice, hes there to push and prod and keep you honest, and also question what youre doing. I havent had too many better bosses that let you get on with the job, but also fully understand what the role needs and what success looks like. Id say his patience will wear thin if we dont turn things around with our performances on the football field.

Whats being done to make sure his patience doesnt wear thin?

I was very fortunate to come in after Matt Hodgson had done quite a lot of work in the space with Andrew Forrest to keep rugby going in WA. But we had to move quickly to what a Super Rugby franchise looks like. We had to setup an academy from scratch, weve had to get ourselves a coaching group that is Super ready, and weve had to make some hard calls on players who had done great things for Western Force and Global Rapid Rugby, but the next step-up was going to be a step too far. I think weve got one of the best coaching groups around, and Im confident our recruitment over time will enable us to build from the bottom up, and have one of the best academies worldwide, which will lead to a very good Super team that wins trophies.

What have you made of Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennans threats regarding Australian Super Rugby teams going it alone?

The one thing I know is Australians and Kiwis are very, very close and work well when they work together. I think Hamish is looking at it from an Australian rugby perspective, which we all respect. Im really positive that the New Zealand clubs, Rugby Australia and New Zealand Rugby find a space where the principles of the partnership are fully understood, appreciated and respected.

So you want a competition locked in with both NZ and Australian teams?

Ive said from the start, right from Anzac weve been brothers in arms. So the more we work together and understand and respect each other, well have a competition that will again be the envy of the world.

Whats the state of rugby in Western Australia?

That five years out of Super Rugby has meant that a number of the promising players either headed east or looked at opportunities around the world. So, were sort of starting from scratch in that community rugby space again. The standard of club comp is high, but its not high enough to bridge a gap between Super Rugby and club. New Zealand has the NPC, Sydney and Brisbane have Hospital Cup and Shute Shield. Weve got to find a way of bridging that gap.

Do you tune in to the Tasman Mako every week?

I watch them most weeks, except the problem is when theyre on at 10am on the Sunday morning, over here the family is ready for lunch about 12, so I miss the second half.

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