Deans out, McKenzie in as Wallabies coach
- Published: 9/07/2013 at 11:49 AM
- Online news:
Former Australian Test prop Ewen McKenzie was Tuesday installed as the new Wallabies coach, vowing to stamp out ill-discipline and deliver consistent success after Robbie Deans quit following their series loss to the British and Irish Lions.
Former Test prop Ewen McKenzie is pictured ahead of a European Cup rugby union match in Paris on October 18, 2008. He was Tuesday appointed the new Wallabies coach after Robbie Deans quit, ending five years in the job.
McKenzie, the Queensland Reds director of coaching who will face his first Test against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on August 17, said he was humbled to get the nod ahead of ACT Brumbies mentor Jake White.
"To coach the Wallabies is a huge honour and also a special opportunity to lead a team that I've enjoyed many great experiences with in the past as both a player and coach," said the 48-year-old, who was capped 51 times by Australia.
"As a role at the highest level, it's one I aspire to because I truly believe I'm ready to make a difference on many levels."
Deans, a former All Black, quit earlier Tuesday after five years and 74 Tests following Saturday's humiliating 41-16 thrashing to lose the British and Irish Lions series.
He had a mixed record with a 58 percent success rate -- winning 43 Tests, losing 29 and drawing two.
McKenzie said he was excited at the opportunity.
"There are so many positives this game brings, and by unifying all its parts and working efficiently, we can create a culture and structure whereby the Wallabies are consistently successful at the highest level in the biggest games," he said.
To help achieve this, he made clear players would only be picked if they showed pride in pulling on the Wallaby jersey and acted responsibly off the field.
"The only opportunity you get to play for the Wallabies is if the Wallabies coach chooses you to play, and to me that's a week-to-week contract," he said.
"If you're not doing the right thing at the right time that week-to-week contract might not be there."
His hard-line comments follow the recent off-field behaviour of some of Australia's elite players overshadowing and undermining their achievements.
Several Wallabies, including Digby Ioane, Kurtley Beale and the brash James O'Connor have all found themselves making headlines for the wrong reasons.
Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said that with Deans' contract due to expire in December, an advisory group had been assessing potential successors as the season progressed.
"Consideration was given to leadership skills, discipline, coaching capability, coaching records, and important factors such as character, values and style of play," he said.
"Having established the necessary criteria, and spoken to the relevant people, we were convinced that Ewen was now the man to take the Wallabies forward."
While congratulating McKenzie, Pulver praised Deans for his "significant contribution to Australian rugby over a long period of time".
Deans broke new ground by becoming the first non-Australian to take charge, but the writing was on the wall after the team's walloping by the Lions on Saturday in what was deemed their most important match since the 2003 World Cup final.
"It has been a rewarding five years and I am proud of all that we have achieved," Deans said.
"Most especially I would like to thank the players for their efforts and wish them all the best going forward."
Saturday's loss to the Lions means he leaves without a defining moment in charge.
His high point remains the 2011 Tri Nations triumph in the weeks before the World Cup in New Zealand.
But he is better remembered for overseeing shattering defeats to Scotland (twice), Samoa at home, a 53-8 rout by South Africa in Johannesburg and an ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand two years ago, when the Wallabies never recovered from a 15-6 mugging by Ireland in the group stage.
McKenzie assumes the role after guiding the Queensland Reds to a first Super 15 championship in 2011, as well as back-to-back Australian conference titles.
Prior to that, he led the NSW Waratahs to two Super Rugby finals in 2005 and 2008 before moving to France where he coached Stade Francais. He also worked as an assistant coach to both Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones at national level between 2000 and 2003.
About the author
- Writer: AFP
Position: News agency