Support growing for ARU to return job to a “true Aussie”.
Former national coach John Connolly has thrown his support behind Ewan McKenzie to take over the Wallabies coaching role, saying Australians must be coached by an Australian.
It is shaping up as an old-fashioned Tri-Nations battle for the top job, with McKenzie, South Africa’s Jake White and the incumbent Kiwi Robbie Deans in the frame.
McKenzie has already played his first hand by declaring this week he will be standing down from his current post as part of the Queensland Reds, solely to try and take on the Wallabies post.
Deans still has a year to run on his contract, after having it renewed around the last World Cup in 2011, however, a losing series against the British and Irish Lions later this year could see him on the outer.
Despite possessing an excellent record with Canterbury in Super rugby, Deans’ resume has been tarnished somewhat with his winning ratio hovering around 60 per cent.
In what could be seen as a direct shot at Deans, Connolly said players will respond much better if they have a fellow Australian coaching with pride in the jersey in mind.
“You need an Aussie to coach an Aussie,” Connolly told News.com.au.
“If you are putting your hand on your heart and representing Australia. I just don’t think you can do that if you are a foreigner.
“You need a coach who understands Australians and I don’t think someone from another country can do that. At the international level you need every advantage and being an Australian coaching Australians is an advantage.”
After Ireland finished a disappointing last in this year’s Six Nations series, McKenzie has been this week linked to take over from Declan Kidney, who is expected not to be offered a new deal.
However, McKenzie has poured water on the suggestions saying nobody has contacted him about a potential job.
“I haven’t spoken to anyone from Ireland and no one has spoken to me,” McKenzie told News.com.au. “People love a conspiracy, that’s what you blokes do.”