Australian rugby
McKenzie says move is not to pressure Deans
March 19, 2013

Ewen McKenzie says he is ready to step up and coach the Wallabies, and he doesn't believe he's placing any added pressure on incumbent Robbie Deans by saying so.

McKenzie announced on Tuesday that he would leave his post as Queensland Reds director of coaching at the end of the current Super Rugby season as he hopes to step up to a Test head coaching role. He said the Wallabies job or an overseas national team post interested him.

But he was adamant he announced his decision now to give the Queensland Rugby Union clarity in its planning rather than to throw down the gauntlet to Deans. Deans is contracted until the end of the year but that may change if Australia lose the three-Test series to the British & Irish Lions in June-July, having been in the role for almost five years.

"I don't think it will put pressure on Robbie Deans at all," McKenzie said in Brisbane. "I don't think this will change anything in his day to day [life]. I have made the decision because it is about doing the right thing by the Reds. I could have waited until August and said 'by the way I am leaving'."

"I spent a lot of time here trying to rebuild a team and reputation," McKenzie said. "It has been a four-year assignment which I have enjoyed."

McKenzie joined the second-last Reds in 2009 and guided the franchise to their first championship by 2011 as well as back-to-back Australian conference titles. Richard Graham was appointed head coach for the Reds this year while McKenzie assumed the role of director of coaching.

McKenzie denied he had been approached by Ireland despite being touted in a report as a possible replacement for their coach, Declan Kidney, after they finished second last in the Six Nations. "You guys love conspiracy theories," McKenzie said of the Ireland speculation.

McKenzie was in line for the Wallabies job in 2005 after Eddie Jones was dumped, but he did not consider himself ready for Test duty. "It is seven years later. If I wasn't ready I wouldn't say I would be - I am ready for the next level," he said, adding there was no "tipping point" that made him walk away from provincial rugby.

"This is about providing clarity. We are in the recruiting phase for 2014 and I think it was important to provide certainty to the staff and players as to what were my intentions. But I am still here running this Reds program this year and we are still hopeful of being successful - then we will see what happens."

"I have been a head coach at this level for nine years and as assistant for another three. From a coaching challenge point of view I would love to be able to coach at a higher level. But wanting it and getting an opportunity are two different things. If there are any opportunities I will have a look at it."


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