Incoming Wallabies head coach Dave Rennie says the All Blacks left their run to secure the 55-year-old’s services too late after being named as Michael Cheika’s replacement for Australia.
Rugby Australia announced the signing of the Glasgow Warriors boss to a three-and-a-half year deal – which will commence next June at the conclusion of the current Pro14 season and ahead of the Wallabies’ July test series against Ireland, and will see him through to the 2023 World Cup in France – on Wednesday.
It’s a move which officially rules Rennie, who was considered a favourite for the Australian job even before Cheika’s resignation last month, out of the running for the vacant All Blacks head coach role.
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Rennie was regarded as one of four primary candidates to succeed outgoing New Zealand boss Steve Hansen, alongside All Blacks assistant Ian Foster, Crusaders head coach Scott Robertson and Japan’s Jamie Joseph.
However, the ex-Super Rugby, NPC and U20 World Championship title-winning coach has revealed that New Zealand Rugby were too late in inviting him to apply for the All Blacks position.
“I’m a proud Kiwi but the big thing is I’ve been talking to Australia for a lot of months and the All Blacks interest came in late in the piece and by that stage, we’d done a lot of homework, we were really excited about the opportunity to go to Australia and that ended up being an easy decision,” Rennie told rugby.com.au.
Super Rugby journeyman Marty McKenzie has left New Zealand to join Welsh side Ospreys on a short-term deal.https://t.co/1IVQ90BOCN
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) November 20, 2019
By taking the Wallabies role, Rennie joins a string of high-profile coaches, including Joseph, incoming Chiefs and British and Irish Lions coach Warren Gatland and outgoing Ireland boss Joe Schmidt, to make themselves unavailable for a spot with the All Blacks.
Additionally, Rennie becomes just the second New Zealander to coach Australia, following in the footsteps of Robbie Deans, who took the helm of the Wallabies at the end of 2007 after missing out on the All Blacks to Sir Graham Henry.
He admitted that some Australians may be wary of a Kiwi being in charge of their national side, but assured fans that he was fully committed to the job at hand, as he has been with every other position he has held in the past.
“I think Australians want their national team coached by an Australian and I’m OK with that,” Rennie said.
“Hopefully, they’re feeling that way because they care about Aussie rugby and all I can say is everywhere I’ve gone I’ve immersed myself in the community and the culture.
“I guess we’ll be judged by what we do as opposed to what I say now but I can assure you that I care about the future of Australian rugby, going to work really hard to get a strong connection with the Super Rugby coaches and national age grade coaches to ensure we’ve got good young talent through and good pathways for them.”
Rennie’s assistants are yet to be confirmed, but it is believed that they and director of rugby Scott Johnson will run Wallabies proceedings until June while the incoming boss battles it out in the Pro14 and Champions Cup with Glasgow.
Rugby.com.au suggested that Rennie’s group of assistants will be an all-Australian cohort, with current England attack coach Scott Wisemantel believed to be in the mix of contenders.
“First thing is to establish a high quality management and coaching group,” Rennie said.
“It’s really important we have a strong Australian flavour in that group and I want to bring back guys who are experienced and can offer a lot, prepared to challenge and so on.
“Those guys are going to be on the grass doing a lot of work when I’m still over here.”
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