McKenzie out of Wallaby job but will coach Tah’s in Super 14




One of the favourites for the Wallaby coaching job has removed himself from the running. The Australian Rugby Union says the task of selecting a new Head Coach for the Qantas Wallabies remains on track in spite of today’s announcement by Ewen McKenzie that he would not be a candidate.

ARU Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Gary Flowers says he respects the Waratah coach’s decision.

“Ewen was certainly a strong candidate but he is not the only candidate. We are committed to choosing the best person for the job. We remain on track for an announcement hopefully in February but the most important thing is to get the best person.”

“That includes Australians coaching off shore or non-Australians. We have said from the outset that we have an open mind on the issue of overseas coaches, although our preference is for an Australian.”

A Panel consisting of ARU General Manager of High Performance Dr Peter Davis, former Wallaby coach Rod Macqueen and former Wallaby Simon Poidevin is expected to make a recommendation to the ARU Board in February.

The ARU launched its search for Eddie Jones’s successor in newspapers nationwide and over the internet – oddly, in the days leading up to Christmas.

The advertisement stipulated that the person appointed must have “a minimum of seven years’ coaching experience at the international and/or professional level, preferably at the Head or Senior coaching level”.

It is a requirement that rules out Super 12-winning former Brumbies coach and new Auckland boss David Nucifora.

The leading candidate would now appear to be John Connolly who spent 13 years as head coach of Queensland between 1988 and 2000, which included a Super 10 win, and two years with French club Stade Francais. He returned to Australia last month after 2 and 1/2years in control of English premiership club Bath.

Connolly, who writes a column for The Sun-Herald, confirmed yesterday for the first time that he was interested in becoming the Wallabies’ head coach, a position he narrowly missed out on in 1995 to Waratahs coach Greg Smith.

“I have been a professional coach for a number of years and obviously it would be an honour to be appointed as Wallabies coach,” he said. “But there are a number of quality people interested in doing the job. I’m prepared to listen to anything the ARU wants to talk about and will just have to see where the cards fall. At the moment it’s really just a matter of wait and see.”

Connolly is not in charge of a Super 14 side, meaning he could devote all his team to reviving the Wallabies.

It has been rumouredthat Sir Clive Woodward applied for the job but the ARU is looking to appoint an Australian for the job.

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