McKenzie set to quit Queensland Reds
March 19, 2013
Ewen McKenzie is to pursue his dream of coaching at Test level © Getty Images
Queensland Reds boss Ewen McKenzie has revealed he will leave the Super Rugby side at the end of the season in order to further his hopes of coaching at international level.
McKenzie, who steered the Reds to the Super Rugby title in 2011, has long been linked with the Australia job but insists the timing of his announcement is not intended to turn up the pressure on current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans, who is out of contract at the end of the year, or force the Australian Rugby Union to confirm their plans for 2014 and beyond. McKenzie's availability is set to spark interest around the rugby globe and he is sure to be linked with a move to Dublin with under-fire Ireland coach Declan Kidney out of contract following the Six Nations.
"It's appropriate to be up front about it now because the (contracting) decisions on the 2014 season are being made now," McKenzie told The Australian newspaper. "Me making my decision allows 50 other people in this organisation to make their decisions. I'd love to have the opportunity to coach the Wallabies but I don't control the timing of the ARU. Things at this level are all about timing. But this way I create my own timing."
McKenzie began his coaching career with the Brumbies in 1998 and his CV also includes a four-year stint as a Wallabies assistant coach and a season with French side Stade Francais. The 47-year-old former international prop was offered the Wallabies post in 2006 following the departure of Eddie Jones but reportedly turned it down because he didn't believe he was qualified to take on such a role. However, it appears is now ready for the step up. "I've been coaching at this level now for about 13 years and I'm ready to move up to the next level," he said.
McKenzie, who is also poised to equal Deans' record for most Super Rugby matches as a head coach having taken charge of 120 games during his time with the Waratahs and then the Reds, is set to hand on the team's reins to current assistant Richard Graham.
"We've been planning for this because it was always obvious to us that Ewen is the best coach in Australia and was always going to end up coaching at Test level," Queensland Rugby Union chairman Rod McCall said. "To be honest, we are fortunate to have had Ewen involved for this long. In my opinion he probably should have been coaching the Wallabies already."
© ESPN Australia/New Zealand