Lions know their foes

The Lions now know the coaching team they'll face when they take on the Wallabies next year. [more]

Lions know their foes

The Lions now know the coaching team they’ll face when they take on the Wallabies next year.

The details for the three-Test series with the Tri Nations Champions have been in place since November but the Lions have only just found out who will be joining head coach Robbie Deans among the Australian management.

A comprehensive review of 2011 by an Australian Rugby Union panel that included 2001 series-winning skipper John Eales recommended a series of changes to the make up of the Wallaby back-room staff and those changes have resulted in the recruitment of three new coaches.

All three will be well known to British and Irish fans, with Tony McGahan, Nick Scrivener and Andrew Blades having coached on these shores at some point in their careers.

“I think the former set up can be happy with where they took the group… those blokes gave good service and can be very proud of the fact that they achieved a Tri Nations victory, which hadn't been done for a while. But we're moving on and we're looking to add value to the playing group,” said Deans.

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“We've been through a very thorough process in terms of a review – we wanted to add some substance around the playing group in assisting them to cater for their needs.

“Some of the more mundane logistics aspects will now get picked up, which will just free up some of my time because the demands are all encompassing in many ways from a head coaching perspective.

“Hopefully it'll allow me to really hone in on point-of-difference rugby content. Leadership is a big focus for us and that's something we'll be putting a real emphasis on.

“Tony obviously has a big background as a head coach, which is going to be good for me and he'll pick up some of the demands to free up some of my time.”

Current Munster boss McGahan will be the best known of the new additions after spending the past seven years in Cork and Limerick. McGahan has been head coach at Thomond Park for four seasons and has added a brace of Celtic League crowns to the two Heineken Cups he won as an assistant to Declan Kidney.

McGahan has been handed the newly created position of Wallabies coaching coordinator once he completes his duties with Munster at the end of the season.

McGahan may have been based in Ireland since 2005 but he is no stranger to a number of the current Wallaby squad. The former PE teacher has coached Wallaby squad members Rocky Elsom and fellow loose forward Richard Brown at Nudgee College, taught star openside David Pocock at Brisbane's Anglican Church Grammar and mentored current Wallabies captain James Horwill, wing Digby Ioane and hooker Tatafu Polota Nau during his time as coaching coordinator of the Australian U19 side.


Tony McGahan works with the likes of 2009 Lions captain Paul O'Connell

Like McGahan, Scrivener also brings a wealth of Celtic experience to his role as coaching assistant having previously worked for Edinburgh.

Scrivener spent two years in the Scottish capital and was promoted to head coach following the departure of Rob Moffat partway through last season.

The former Brumbies player and assistant coach was in the running to take on the Edinburgh hot seat on a full-time basis but he instead decided to return home last summer.

Scrivener has since been working as head coach at the Australian Rugby Union Academy but his experience with Edinburgh and Scotland A means he may have the inside track on a number of potential Lions.

Andrew Blades is the third new member of Deans’ team, with the former Test prop being named Wallaby forwards coach.

Blades held the same role at Newcastle Falcons between 2002 and 2004, having previously won 32 caps for his country, the last of which came in the 1999 World Cup Final win over France.

The 44-year-old served as part of the Wallaby coaching set up back in 2004 and has also coached with the Brumbies, assisting both Eddie Jones and then David Nucifora in Canberra.

Blades will be responsible for both the scrum and lineout as the Wallabies prepare for summer Tests against both Scotland and Wales followed by the inaugural Rugby Championship as the Tri Nations expands to include Argentina, although former scrum coach Patricio Noriega is still contracted to the ARU and will continue to work with the Wallabies when required.


Andrew Blades (second from left) is an experienced Wallaby

The Wallabies squad for the June Tests against Scotland (June 5) and Wales (June 9, 16, 23) is due to be announced when the preliminary group of Reds and Force players meet in Sydney on Monday, May 28.

Players from the Brumbies, Rebels and Waratahs will then join the camp after they fulfill their Super Rugby commitments the following weekend.

Deans and his new assistants will name an initial group of 34 players which will then be cut to 30 after the mid-week clash with the Scots.

New Wallabies coaching and management team

Head coach: Robbie Deans
Coaching coordinator: Tony McGahan*
Forwards coach: Andrew Blades*
Coaching assistant: Nick Scrivener*
Strength and conditioning coach: Ashley Jones*
Manager: Bob Egerton
Logistics manager: Matt Sheppard*
Doctor: Dr Warren MacDonald
Physiotherapist: Andrew Ryan
Analyst: Andrew Sullivan

*denotes new member of the management team

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