Sporting fans from across Australia have paid Queensland Reds maestro Ewen McKenzie the ultimate honour by selecting him as the nation's best coach for 2011.
The accolade was announced Saturday with McKenzie winning the Coach Performer of the Year Award for his efforts in guiding the Queensland Reds to their maiden Super Rugby championship in the professional era.
Sports fanatics from across Australia were asked to vote online for the award with McKenzie toppling stiff competition from elite coaches across all of the country's leading sporting codes.
McKenzie joined the Reds in 2010 and in his first season at the helm took the side to fifth place before masterminding their historic Super Rugby triumph in 2011, capping off a memorable regular season of 13 wins and just 3 losses by overcoming the Crusaders in the Super Rugby Final at a soldout Suncorp Stadium.
The Reds were recognised for their achievement through winning the Queensland Sports Team of the Year Award last month.
"To be recognised in a nationwide vote is extremely humbling," McKenzie said.
"Clearly 2011 was an exceptional year for Queensland Rugby and the Reds. People are proud to call themselves Reds fans again and importantly Rugby has returned to a position of strength, not just in Queensland but across Australia.
"Winning the 2011 Super Rugby title is an achievement I'll always enjoy but in our pursuit of greatness, hopefully it's just the beginning of what the Reds can achieve together."
Queensland Rugby CEO Jim Carmichael congratulated McKenzie for being recognised as Australia's best coach.
"This award is deserved recognition of Ewen's commitment and dedication to getting the very best out of the young team we have here at the Reds," Mr Carmichael said.
"Our playing group rises to each challenge they are set by Ewen and in 2012 the bar will be raised even higher in the pursuit of excellence."