Australian Rugby Union has announced former Test prop Ewen McKenzie as the new Qantas Wallabies Head Coach from early August.
McKenzie replaces Robbie Deans, who has decided to step down from the role following the DHL Australia 2013 Lions Tour.
Deans has resigned prior to the December expiry of his coaching contract, giving McKenzie the opportunity to guide the Qantas Wallabies’ upcoming campaign in the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and the Grand Slam Spring Tour in November.
In ascending to the country’s top coaching position, McKenzie becomes the first former Australian international installed in the job since Dave Brockhoff coached the Wallabies to a Bledisloe Cup success in his final year at the helm in 1979.
The ARU Board endorsed McKenzie to succeed Deans after receiving a recommendation from ARU CEO Bill Pulver.
Mr Pulver said with Deans’ contract set to expire at the end of 2013, an advisory group approved by the Board had been assessing the coaching position and potential candidates – including Deans – as the season progressed.
“We have been conducting that due diligence over the last few months, taking into account broad criteria for coach selection,” he said.
“Consideration was given to leadership skills, discipline, coaching capability, coaching records, and important factors such as character, values and style of play.
“Therefore, we were well prepared depending on how the year unfolded.
“Robbie resigning in the wake of the Lions Tour did not catch us unprepared to move forward with a replacement.
“Having established the necessary criteria, and spoken to the relevant people, we were convinced that Ewen was now the man to take the Qantas Wallabies forward.
“His opportunity comes forward quickly, with the Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship and the opening match of that competition – the Bledisloe Cup showdown with the All Blacks on August 17.
“In welcoming Ewen, ARU also wants to say a sincere thank you to Robbie Deans for his massive contribution to the game in this country over a long period of time.
“Robbie came into the job in 2008, improved our away record almost immediately, delivered a Tri Nations title in 2011, and has been a significant part of a Lions Tour that over shadows any other Rugby event in Australia since the 2003 Rugby World Cup.
“To Robbie, we wish him all the best in his future endeavours and to build further on what is one of world Rugby’s most impressive coaching resumes.”
Incoming Qantas Wallabies coach, Ewen McKenzie, said he felt humbled at being appointed coach of the Qantas Wallabies and was excited by the opportunities that lay ahead.
“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,” McKenzie said.
“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.
“It’s not a role without challenges but is also one that comes with great opportunity and a chance to influence the current state of Rugby both on and off the field.
“There’s no denying that Rugby functions within a hugely competitive sporting landscape and it’s important that the Qantas Wallabies are viewed as a central part of it and that the Australian Rugby brand is providing inspiration for our fans and the next generation of players.
“There are so many positives this game brings and by unifying all its parts and working efficiently together we can create a culture and structure whereby the Wallabies are consistently successful at the highest level in the biggest games.
“There is a significant opportunity with The Castrol EDGE Rugby Championship commencing in August and I think everyone is looking forward to getting to work and tackling the challenges ahead.”