QUEENSLAND REDS COACH Ewen McKenziecreated a storm of speculation when he announced on Monday that he would be stepping down from the role in Australia at the end of the season and seeking work ‘either here or overseas’.
Within 24 hours, McKenzie had gone from being a contender for the Ireland job that Declan Kidney holds, until this June, to the nailed-on favourite.
There was even word from McKenzie’s agent that he had spoken to a top official in the IRFU.
McKenzie, a World Cup winner as a player in 1991, has moved to clarify his current situation.
In his Brisbane Times column today, McKenzie says he has made the announcement while still in charge at the Reds to provide certainty to the club. He points out that he will ‘have to find new work in August’.
He said, “I always say timing is everything but sometimes it won’t matter what the timing is as interpretations are always varied.
For example, the connection of Ireland losing on the weekend and my announcement were purely coincidence. I didn’t wake up on Sunday and see Ireland lose only to think I should hold a press conference to capitalise on that.
“Nor did Ireland ring me up and offer me a job when as far as they and the world knew, I already had one.”
McKenzie is close to Ireland backs coach Les Kiss. The duo are frequent guests of the Ruggamatrix rugby podcast and YouTube series:
McKenzie and Kiss are regular contributors to the Australian show. (Credit: Ruggamatrix)
Keen on Deans’ job
McKenzie, a former prop who coached the Reds to Super Rugby glory in 2011, revealed that he was offered the Wallabies job in 2005 but turned it down as he did not feel ready.
It is likely that he will wait to make any big decisions on his future until after the Lions tour to Australia this summer. Depending on the result of the Test Series, current coach Robbie Deans may vacate the role or have it vacated for him.
On that matter, McKenzie admitted there was an ‘obvious connection’.
He added, “It is important that I reiterate that while I have ambitions to coach my country at the highest level, the announcement was by no means associated with applying added pressure to the process.
People love a conspiracy. But if it was a conspiracy theory, it has been running for at least three years and across two ARU regimes. Watergate looks like small biccies by comparison.
The reality is, the Wallaby coaching position is all about timing. You have to be the best person when they actually want to appoint someone and until it’s a vacant position, it’s not available.”