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Ex-Brumbies & Leicester coach Dan McKellar joins Waratahs

By Finn Morton
(Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

Former ACT Brumbies and Leicester Tigers mastermind Dan McKellar will be back coaching on Australia’s shores next season after signing a three-year deal to become the NSW Waratahs’ new head coach, the club confirmed on Friday.

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McKellar, 47, will succeed Darren Colman in the role after the Waratahs decided not to renew the former coach’s contract beyond this year’s chaotic Super Rugby Pacific season. Injuries plagued their campaign as the New South Welshman won just two of 14 fixtures.

But there’s a reason for Tahs fans to be excited about the future as the pieces of the club’s new frontier continue to come together. After bringing on Simon Raiwalui, the Sydney-based club has secured the services of a Super Rugby AU champion.

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New Zealand Sevens star Sarah Hirini gets emotional when asked by Finn Morton about Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who will retire after the Olympics.

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Sarah Hirini on retiring legend Portia Woodman-Wickliffe

New Zealand Sevens star Sarah Hirini gets emotional when asked by Finn Morton about Portia Woodman-Wickliffe, who will retire after the Olympics.

As Australian fans will no doubt remember, McKellar led the charge for the Brumbies as they claimed the title in 2020. That was just one standout moment from the coach’s career which has included stops domestically and abroad.

It’s almost no surprise the Tahs described the highly-regarded rugby guru as “the standout applicant” in a statement. McKellar also worked with the Wallabies as an assistant coach for a few years, after all.

“We’re delighted to have a head coach of Dan McKellar’s calibre joining the Waratahs,” CEO Paul Doorn said in a statement.

“Dan has an impressive coaching resume and achieved great success with the ACT Brumbies in Super Rugby during his five-year tenure.

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“Dan will work closely with High Performance Director Simon Raiwalui, and their partnership marks an exciting new frontier for the Waratahs.

“I am confident that the appointments of Dan and Simon will put the Waratahs on the path to delivering sustained success from 2025 and beyond.”

McKellar played more than 150 games for South Rugby Club in Brisbane before moving into coaching. Th Australian was the head coach of the prestigious Queensland club from 2008 to 2010 before moving south to Canberra.

Tuggeranong Vikings brought McKellar on as a Coaching Director and Head Coach. McKellar later moved on to positions in Japan with NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes, the ACT Brumbies, University of Canberra Vikings and then back to Super Rugby with the Brumbies.

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During that second stint with the Australian rugby powerhouse, the Brumbies made the semi-finals in 2019, won Super Rugby AU the following year, and backed that up with a valiant performance in the 2021 final against the Queensland Reds in Brisbane.

After also working with the Australia national team and most recently Leicester Tigers, McKellar is looking forward to joining the Waratahs.

“I’m extremely pleased to be joining the NSW Waratahs,” McKellar explained.

“Rugby in NSW has a proud history of over 150 years and the Waratahs are the pinnacle of representation within the state.

“The club fell short of expectations in 2024 but there are building blocks in place to improve on.

“I’m motivated and passionate to deliver a vastly improved performance next season, comprising of consistent efforts that will make the loyal Waratahs fanbase proud.”

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Comments

3 Comments
D
David 14 days ago

Getting like the EPL with musical chairs for the managers / coaches?

j
john 14 days ago

Hmmmmm. How long before the Tahs Toffs stab him in the back, being a Queenslander. I’d give it 12 months max.

Don’t do it Taniela. Get some experience overseas.

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finn 6 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

What a difference 9 months makes! Last autumn everyone was talking about how important versatile bench players were to SA’s WC win, now we’re back to only wanting specialists? The timing of this turn is pretty odd when you consider that some of the best players on the pitch in the SA/Ireland match were Osbourne (a centre playing out of position at 15), Feinberg-Mngomezulu (a fly-half/centre playing out of position at 15), and Frawley (a utility back). Having specialists across the backline is great, but its not always necessary. Personally I think Frawley is unlikely to displace Crowley as first choice 10, but his ability to play 12 and 15 means he’s pretty much guaranteed to hold down a spot on the bench, and should get a decent amount of minutes either at the end of games or starting when there are injuries. I think Willemse is in a similar boat. Feinberg-Mngomezulu possibly could become a regular starter at 10 for the Springboks, but he might not, given he’d have to displace Libbok and Pollard. I think its best not to put all your eggs in one basket - Osbourne played so well at the weekend that he will hopefully be trusted with the 15 shirt for the autumn at least, but if things hadn’t gone well for him he could have bided his time until an opportunity opened up at centre. Similarly Feinberg-Mngomezulu is likely to get a few opportunities at 15 in the coming months due to le Roux’s age and Willemse’s injury, but given SA don’t have a single centre aged under 30 its likely that opportunities could also open up at 12 if he keeps playing there for Stormers. None of this will discount him from being given gametime at 10 - in the last RWC cycle Rassie gave a start at 10 to Frans Steyn, and even gave de Klerk minutes there off the bench - but it will give him far more opportunities for first team rugby.

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