McKenzie named new Oz coach

Ewen McKenzie (Getty)
Ewen McKenzie (Getty)

Sydney - Former Australian Test prop Ewen McKenzie was on Tuesday installed as the new Wallabies coach, vowing to deliver consistent success, after Robbie Deans quit following their series loss to the British and Irish Lions.

McKenzie, the Reds director of coaching who will face his first Test against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on August 17, said he was humbled to get the nod ahead of 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 earlier Tuesday after five years and 74 Tests in charge following Saturday's humiliating 41-16 thrashing to lose the British and Irish Lions series.

He had a mixed record with the Wallabies with a 58 percent success rate - winning 43 Tests, losing 29 and drawing two.

McKenzie said he was excited at the opportunity.

"It's not a role without challenges but is also one that comes with great opportunity and a chance to influence the current state of rugby both on and off the field," he said.

"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."

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."

While congratulating McKenzie, Pulver praised Deans for his "significant contribution to Australian rugby over a long period of time".

Deans broke new ground when he was appointed by becoming the first non-Australian to take charge, but the writing was on the wall after the team's walloping by the Lions on Saturday in what was deemed their most important match since the 2003 World Cup final.

"It has been a rewarding five years and I am proud of all that we have achieved," Deans said.

"Most especially I would like to thank the players for their efforts and wish them all the best going forward."

Saturday's loss to the Lions means he leaves without a defining moment in charge.

His high point remains the 2011 Tri Nations triumph in the weeks before the World Cup in New Zealand.

But he is better remembered for overseeing shattering defeats to Scotland (twice), Samoa at home, a 53-8 rout by South Africa in Johannesburg and an ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand two years ago, when the Wallabies never recovered from a 15-6 mugging by Ireland in the group stage.

McKenzie announced in March that he would quit the Reds at the end of the Super Rugby season after joining them in 2009 and guiding the franchise to a first Super 15 championship in 2011, as well as back-to-back Australian conference titles.

Prior to the Reds, 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 a Wallaby selector and an assistant coach to both Rod Macqueen and Eddie Jones at national level between 2000 and 2003.

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