Ewen McKenzie will coach the Wallabies to the 2015 Rugby World Cup after the Australian Rugby Union released Robbie Deans from his two-year contract six months early.
Georgina Robinson, RugbyHeaven
B&I Lions coach Warren Gatland rallied behind embattled Australian counterpart Robbie Deans, highlighting the achievements of his fellow Kiwi, to no avail for the embattled coach.
It is understood the departing Reds head coach, who took the Queensland side to a Super Rugby title in 2011, will be unveiled tomorrow as Deans’s replacement.
McKenzie has seen off a powerful challenge from Brumbies coach Jake White, who was considered a strong favourite for the position just a few weeks ago.
White coached the Springboks to World Cup victory in 2007 and was responsible for leading a revival of the Brumbies.
But after Deans’ five-and-a-half-year tenure the clamour was powerful for an Australian to get the job.
McKenzie’s success at the Reds – since winning in 2011 the side has made the Super Rugby finals two years in a row – was also at the core of a strong push for his appointment.
Deans’ fate was sealed when the Wallabies lost 41-16 in the series decider against the British and Irish Lions on Saturday.
He met with Pulver in Sydney on Monday and was informed of his fate, but appeared resigned to it in the hours after the disappointing Test performance.
The 53-year-old was appointed after the 2007 World Cup and retained on a two-year contract after the 2011 tournament, where Australia fell to the All Blacks in the semi-finals.
Deans took the Wallabies from fifth spot in the world rankings to a sustained peak of second spot, before an injury-marred 2012 season saw them drop back to third place.
Under Deans the Wallabies won the 2011 Tri Nations but never won the coveted Bledisloe Cup, which New Zealand has held since 2003.
McKenzie announced in March his intention to leave the Reds and pursue a national coaching role, saying at the time: “Anyone who knows me understands I have strong coaching ambitions and, after spending nine years coaching at a Super Rugby level, I’m excited about pursuing a different role either here or overseas”.
A Melbourne-raised former town planner, he turned to rugby seriously after moving to Sydney and joining Randwick rugby club.
The Wallabies’ next Test match is against the All Blacks in Sydney on August 17 in the first match of The Rugby Championship.