McKenzie denies Ireland link

Ewen Mckenzie says there is no truth linking him to the Ireland job after he announced his plans to leave the Queensland Reds at the end of the Super Rugby season. [more]

McKenzie denies Ireland link

Ewen Mckenzie says there is no truth linking him to the Ireland job after he announced his plans to leave the Queensland Reds at the end of the Super Rugby season.

McKenzie will sign off in the summer after four years at the Suncorp Stadium – a spell that saw the Reds claim their first Super XV title in 2011.

The former Waratahs and Stade Francais supremo has immediately been tipped to take over from Declan Kidney once the current coach’s contract expires later this year but McKenzie says he has had no contact with the Irish Rugby Football Union.

"I noticed that Ireland popped up in the paper but I haven’t spoken to anyone from Ireland. No one’s spoken to me, I haven’t spoken to them," said McKenzie.

"I think that’s purely a function of timing. Ireland had a loss on the weekend and I made the announcement today and people put two and two together.

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"People love doing that – they love a conspiracy. They love to try and put things together."

McKenzie openly stated that he was looking for a challenge outside of Super Rugby, with a northern hemisphere assignment a real possibility.

The 47-year-old ex-Test prop has long been seen as a successor to Robbie Deans as coach of his country, however, and the timing of his announcement is likely to pile more pressure on Deans ahead of the summer series with the Lions.

McKenzie insists that isn’t his intention, even though Deans’ contract runs out this year and no decision has been made on whether to extend the New Zealander’s stay.

"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," added McKenzie.

"If there’s a coaching assignment that looks like a real challenge for me then I’ll have a look at it – it’s as simple as that.

"I don't think it will put pressure on Robbie Deans at all. I don't think this will change anything in his day to day (life).

"I have made the decision because it is about doing the right thing by the Reds. I could have waited until August and said 'by the way I am leaving'.

"There’s no conspiracy…there’s nothing to it other than trying to provide the Reds players, the Reds staff and the Reds organisation some certainty about what I’m doing and allows them to make some decisions."

Ewen McKenzie: the lowdown

The former Australia tight-head won a World Cup winners medal with the Wallabies in 1991 having made his Test debut the year after the Lions came calling in 1989. He won just over a half century of caps by 1997, starting all bar one of his internationals in the Green and Gold.

McKenzie has also enjoyed plenty of success since moving into the coaching ranks, with a series triumph against the 2001 Lions amongst his earliest achievements. He worked under Rod Macqueen when Britain and Ireland's elite were beaten in Melbourne and Sydney 12 years ago and he'll be looking for more of the same with the Reds.

He took charge at the Waratahs after the World Cup Final defeat to England in 2003 and led the NSW franchise to the Super Rugby Final in just his second season in 2005. Semi-final showings followed in 2006 and 2008 before McKenzie headed to Paris to take over at Stade Francais but he lasted just over a year before being sacked in September 2009.

McKenzie's stock was till high back in Australia, however, and he was immediately given the task of turning around the fortunes of a Reds set up that had failed to live up to expectations in previous seasons. He certainly hasn't failed in that objective, leading the Reds to a fifth-placed finish in 2010 before delivering an elusive Super Rugby title the following year.

His stellar coaching career to date has also included spells as a coordinator at the Brumbies and top dog with Australia A, while he took sole control of the Wallabies for one Test in the lead up to the 2007 World Cup in France.

McKenzie will equal Deans' record of 120 Super Rugby games as a coach when the Reds host the Bulls in Brisbane this Saturday.

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