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Connolly wants a local coach


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Wallabies coach John Connolly wants to see an Australian succeed him as the nation’s rugby coach when he ends his two-year tenure at the end of the Rugby World Cup.

Connolly will step down as Wallabies head coach at the completion of the World Cup campaign in October and the veteran coach expressed his view that the incoming coach should be Australian-born.

“I think if you are a foreigner, at times, it doesn’t quite mean as much to you as if it was your country and it becomes another job and I think coaching a country is more than that,” said Connolly.

“From a personal point of view I’d prefer an Australian but whoever the ARU appointed I’d support 100 per cent.”

New Zealander Robbie Deans – current coach of successful Super 14 side the Crusaders – is the favourite on an eight-man list to replace “Knuckles” in the coaching hot seat.

Deans, who has led the Crusaders to six Super rugby titles, is also in the running for the All Blacks job with Graham Henry expected to bow out after the tournament in France.

Deans is the only foreigner currently being considered but has strong support from Australian Rugby Union (ARU) supremo John O’Neill who was keen to lure him across the Tasman in late 2003.

Connolly’s two assistant coaches – Scott Johnson and John Muggleton – are also in the running for the prominent position which he feels would be the pinnacle for an Australian rugby coach.

The 56-year-old admitted the timing of the selection process was difficult for Johnson, Muggleton and fellow assistant Michael Foley, keen to keep his forwards coach role.

But he insisted it wasn’t taking their focus away from World Cup preparations.

“They’re looking to their futures, there’s no doubt,” said Connolly.

“Separating the two is difficult for them at times because they want to know what they’re doing after the World Cup.”


365 Digital

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