MELBOURNE (Reuters) – ACT Brumbies coach Dan McKellar has ruled himself out of the running to replace Michael Cheika as coach of Australia, saying he is not ready to step up to test level.
McKellar guided the Brumbies into the Super Rugby playoffs last season and Australian media had touted him as the leading local candidate to take over from Cheika, who resigned after the Wallabies’ quarter-final exit at the Rugby World Cup.
“I’m going into year three (at the Brumbies) and I am very comfortable in the role I’m in and hope to have a long career leading the Brumbies,” McKellar told The Australian on Tuesday.
“Do I have aspirations down the track to coach at the highest level? Yes, of course, but I’m in no rush.
“I understand that I’ve got to continue to build and gain valuable experience, lead a really successful and professional program here that allows us to have consistent success over a long period of time.”
Rugby Australia said last week it had already drawn up a target list of coaches and hoped to name Cheika’s successor by Christmas.
Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie, once regarded a potential All Blacks coach in his native New Zealand, is favoured by Australian media to take over the Wallabies.
And while Rennie has confirmed his interest in the job he has told British media he would not leave the Warriors until seeing out the domestic season in June.
“That’s important to me,” he said in quotes published by the BBC. “I’ve committed to Warriors and I won’t leave earlier.”
England’s run to the final in Japan has seen a parade of former players and pundits urge Rugby Australia to pull out all the stops to lure the team’s Australian coach Eddie Jones home.
Jones, who guided Australia to the final of the 2003 World Cup, is contracted to coach England through to 2021.
McKellar gave Jones a ringing endorsement, saying he was impressed by England’s “outstanding coaching set-up” when he was invited to visit their training base at Pennyhill Park last year.
“You talk about dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s, well, from what I witnessed, he does it about 25 times, over and over and over,” he said.
“It is clear he has an incredible work ethic and leaves no stone unturned.”
(Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford)