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Rugby | International Rugby

Ewen McKenzie © Gallo Images

Vacant Ireland job stokes McKenzie interest



Former Australia assistant coach Ewen McKenzie has had no contact with the Irish Rugby Union but said coaching the Ireland team would be the kind of role he would be interested in.

Declan Kidney's five-year tenure as Ireland coach ended on Tuesday after a poor Six Nations campaign and McKenzie, who will vacate his coaching position with Super Rugby team the Reds at the end of the season, is rated a strong candidate to take over.

"I have said I am looking for coaching challenges at the next level, and I am looking for whatever the possibilities are," McKenzie said in comments published on News Ltd websites on Thursday.

"It's the type of job I am interested in looking at, but there have been no discussions."

A former Australia prop in the 1991 World Cup-winning team, McKenzie was an assistant coach to Rod Macqueen, who took the Wallabies to a second World Cup win in 1999, and Eddie Jones, who guided the national team to the 2003 tournament final.

McKenzie was subsequently named head coach of theWaratahs and took the Sydney-based team to the Super 12 final in his second season in 2005 and to another in 2008.

After a brief coaching stint with French club Stade Francais, McKenzie returned to Australia to guide his current club, Reds, to the 2011 Super Rugby title in his second year in charge.

Taking up the Ireland job would mean McKenzie would have to shelve his dream of coaching Australia, however, and at a time when the role could shortly become available.

Wallabies coach Robbie Deans is contracted until after this year's British and Irish Lions series, but would be unlikely to win an extension should the hosts lose.

"I have stated I would like the Wallabies job but it's all in the timing," McKenzie said.

"The Wallabies job hasn't been up for six years. In the end I have made it clear the challenge of coaching at that level is what interests me, but there aren't many opportunities at test level and you can't control the timing."

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