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Ewen McKenzie confirmed as Australia's new coach

McKenzie replaces Robbie Deans who resigned after losing the Lions series.

Ewen McKenzie, left, and Australian rugby union CEO Bill Pulver, right, shake on it.
Ewen McKenzie, left, and Australian rugby union CEO Bill Pulver, right, shake on it.
Image: Tertius Pickard/AP/Press Association Images

AUSTRALIA HAVE CONFIRMED the appointment of Ewen McKenzie as the country’s new coach.

The former Test prop vowed to stamp out ill-discipline and deliver consistent success after Robbie Deans quit following their series loss to the British and Irish Lions.

McKenzie, who will face his first Test against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on 17 August, said he was humbled to get the nod ahead of ACT Brumbies mentor Jake White.

“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,” said the 48-year-old, who was capped 51 times by Australia.

“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.”

Deans, a former All Black, quit on Tuesday after five years and 74 Tests following Saturday’s humiliating 41-16 thrashing to lose the British and Irish Lions series. He had a mixed record with a 58% success rate — winning 43 Tests, losing 29 and drawing two.

McKenzie said he was excited at the opportunity.

“There are so many positives this game brings, and by unifying all its parts and working efficiently, we can create a culture and structure whereby the Wallabies are consistently successful at the highest level in the biggest games,” he said.

To help achieve this, he made clear players would only be picked if they showed pride in pulling on the Wallaby jersey and acted responsibly off the field.

“The only opportunity you get to play for the Wallabies is if the Wallabies coach chooses you to play, and to me that’s a week-to-week contract,” he said.

“If you’re not doing the right thing at the right time that week-to-week contract might not be there.”

His hard-line comments follow the recent off-field behaviour of some of Australia’s elite players overshadowing and undermining their achievements. Several Wallabies, including Digby Ioane, Kurtley Beale and the brash James O’Connor have all found themselves making headlines for the wrong reasons.

Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said that with Deans’ contract due to expire in December, an advisory group had been assessing potential successors as the season progressed.

“Consideration was given to leadership skills, discipline, coaching capability, coaching records, and important factors such as character, values and style of play,” he said.

“Having established the necessary criteria, and spoken to the relevant people, we were convinced that Ewen was now the man to take the Wallabies forward.”

McKenzie assumes the role after guiding the Queensland Reds to a first Super 15 championship in 2011, as well as back-to-back Australian conference titles.

Prior to that, he led the NSW Waratahs to two Super Rugby finals in 2005 and 2008 before moving to France where he coached Stade Francais. He also worked as an assistant coach to both Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones at national level between 2000 and 2003.

- © AFP, 2013

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