Belfast Telegraph

Saturday 20 September 2014

McKenzie expresses Ireland interest

Ewen McKenzie, left, says he is open to talks over the Ireland head coach position

Ewen McKenzie has confirmed he would be interested in becoming the new Ireland head coach as the field of potential candidates to replace Declan Kidney narrowed.

McKenzie has been linked with the Ireland role since announcing he would step down as Queensland Reds head coach at the end of the current Super Rugby season to pursue a job at international level. The ex-Australia prop told Sydney's Daily Telegraph he had not been in contact with the Irish Rugby Football Union - but that he would be interested.

"I have said I am looking for coaching challenges at the next level and I am looking for whatever the possibilities are," McKenzie said.

"It's the type of job I am interested in looking at but there have been no discussions. I have stated I would like the Wallabies job but it's all in the timing. You have to look around what's available when you're looking for a job.

"I have made it clear the challenge of coaching at that level is what interests me but there aren't many opportunities at Test level and you can't control the timing."

Kidney left his post on Tuesday after the Irish Rugby Football Union decided not to offer him a new deal when his current contract expires on June 30.

Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has since ruled himself out of contention and Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths said Mark McCall was committed to his club.

O'Shea was immediately tipped for the job, having guided Harlequins from the Bloodgate saga to Aviva Premiership champions and into this weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-finals against Munster. But the former Ireland full-back insisted that even the lure of coaching his country was not enough to turn his back on the project at Harlequins.

"I'm going nowhere. My contract is here (until the summer of 2014), I love it here and hopefully I will be here for a long time to come," O'Shea said. "We are very excited about the group of players we have and how far we still have left to improve as a team."

Les Kiss, Ireland's defence coach who worked with McKenzie at the NSW Waratahs, will step up to be interim head coach for the summer Tests against the United States in Houston on June 8 and Canada in Toronto a week later.

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