Potential Wallabies coach Dan McKellar has been given a massive wrap by England legend Ben Youngs after turning around Leicester Tigers fortunes over the past few weeks.
After a 5-0 losing start to life at the Tigers, where the team was impacted by the World Cup, McKellar has won three Premiership games on the the trot including a 47-3 win over Newcastle Falcons on Monday (AEDT).
The next challenge for McKellar – considered a candidate to replace Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach – is to take the team into the Champions Cup tournament with an opening game against the Stormers.
“What I loved about that performance is it had Leicester Tigers written all over it,” McKellar told reporters after an impressive win in terrible conditions.
“You could clearly see our DNA and what we value as a team.
“Particularly in the conditions which were obviously challenging for the players and our supporters I thought our execution and discipline were outstanding.
“Newcastle are a team that score points, and they can hurt you at the maul so to leave here today having not conceded is really good reward is pleasing.”
McKellar said he knew he could turn around the fortunes despite the difficult start.
“Despite the fact results weren’t going our way early on, we were all on-board with the path we were taking and trusted that sticking together, backing the process and preparing well would lead to good performances which results come off the back of,” McKellar said.
“I said at the time that I’d been here before when I took over at the Brumbies. Evolving your game but maintaining your principles as a club takes time, but I have to say that the buy-in from day one has been there and the performances these past couple of weeks is great reward for our players and staff.
“It’s important to enjoy your wins along the way but we know there’s plenty of challenges ahead starting this week against the Stormers.
“I’ve obviously watched the European Cup in the past, the Champions Cup now from afar and have always wanted to be part of it and the players are no different so we’ll enjoy this win tonight and get in on Tuesday with plenty of energy and excitement.”
Youngs, England’s most capped men’s player, has been at Leicester for 17 seasons.
“Dan’s been terrific, I really enjoy him as a bloke. He’s got a real good, Australian way of wanting to play,” he said after the win.
“We want to be more ambitious and move the ball more and all that. I like the way it’s heading, I like him. The team’s trying to develop and move quickly.”
McKellar recently moved to douse speculation that he could be in the Wallabies frame, but suggestions persist that he is being considered along with candidates including Joe Schmidt and Stephen Larkham.
“One thing I can’t control is media speculation, and that’s what it is,” McKellar told BBC Sports Leicester last month.
“It’s media speculation and they’ve got to fill newspapers and websites and put stories in place for people to read and that’s completely out of my control.
“I’ve moved my family here, we’re very happy here. Girls are at school, loving life in the Midlands, and that’s all I’m focusing on.”
The Roar reported that McKellar has a clause that would allow him to take up a national team job.