McKenzie rules out a return to Waratahs
Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie has rubbished reports he could replace besieged Michael Foley and return to Sydney as the NSW Waratahs’ saviour next season.
The Super Rugby-winning mentor was bemused by Monday newspaper speculation he loomed as a potential wildcard for NSW’s head coaching role.
“It’s fiction, I’m already doing other things,” McKenzie told AAP. “I’m still running the (QRU) football program and I’m still coaching.
“Just because the Waratahs lose a game suddenly everyone speculates on me.”
Before dramatically turning the cellar-dwelling Reds around in 2010, McKenzie led the Waratahs to three finals campaigns in a five-year stint in Sydney from 2004.
He was axed for Chris Hickey after taking NSW to the 2008 Super 14 decider – losing to the Crusaders for the second grand final in four seasons.
While his family remain in Sydney, the former Wallabies prop said he was dedicated to continuing his role strengthening the code in the ultra-competitive Queensland market.
Former Western Force coach Richard Graham has been signed as Reds head coach for next season, but McKenzie will work above him and remain heavily involved with the team as QRU coaching director.
Seen as the obvious successor to Robbie Deans as Wallabies coach down the track, McKenzie’s responsibilities will expand to Queensland director of rugby in 2014 if Deans is retained by the Australian Rugby Union.
Foley’s job is under intense scrutiny after the Waratahs fell to a record-worst sixth straight loss in Saturday night’s 33-12 defeat to the Hurricanes in front of a worryingly small crowd of 13,372.
Stade Francais coach Michael Cheika, who helped make Irish club Leinster the European champions in 2009, is reportedly being lobbied hard by NSW and Western Force officials.
But McKenzie ruled himself out of a return to the Waratahs.
“I’ve been there, I wasn’t required and moved on,” he said. “I’m busy and got things going on.
“It’s not as though I’m waiting by the phone.”
With the Reds sitting ninth on a congested Super Rugby table, one point out of the top six, McKenzie is formulating plans to best manage his squad for the final three fixture rounds after the June Test window.
Queensland must take on the Hurricanes in a June 15 exhibition match with a second-string line-up as more than a full team of Reds will be in Wallabies and Australian U20 squads.© AAP 2013
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