The fallout from the 3rd and final Test against the British and Irish Lions has left Robbie Deans jobless. Crowd favourite, Ewen McKenzie, will now take the reigns as Wallabies head coach; a job seemingly destined for disaster over the past decade.
When Robbie Deans took the job as head coach of the Wallabies in 2007, he was infallible. Leading the Crusaders to multiple Super Rugby titles, Deans was the man the Australian rugby world wanted to lead them into the next World Cup. 6 years on and not a single member of the Australian rugby-following public would say the same about the 2015 World Cup. Here is why McKenzie will be different.
McKenzie has the respect of the key players within the Australian leadership group. Captain and vice-captain James Horwill and Will Genia were there in 2011 when the Reds won the Super Rugby title, they know what effect McKenzie can have on a team. McKenzie put the Reds through a complete transformation when he arrived at Ballymore in 2009, taking the Reds from a laughing stock to Super Rugby champions in just two years. This difficult task of transforming the QLD Reds is the reason that McKenzie’s has been given a chance at national level – Ewen has demanded the respect of the Australian Public.
McKenzie can shift and adapt his style of rugby. The champion Reds side of 2011 never took the same game plan into consecutive weeks, a real problem for the Wallabies over the last 6 years. While Deans has been stubborn and stuck to his guns, McKenzie offers proactive thinking rather than reactive. The Reds will come out throwing the ball side to side one week, but the following week will take the points at any chance they get. It is well known in sport that if you are standing still you are falling behind. The introduction of McKenzie to the top job will certainly keep the style of play moving forward.
Finally, Ewen McKenzie knows how to beat New Zealand. The Reds completed a clean sweep of New Zealand sides in 2013 and are 14-4 against Kiwi teams in the McKenzie era. Wallabies fans want one thing before the World Cup in 2015, a Bledisloe Cup back on Australian soil. It has been 10 years since the Australian’s have lifted the cup and perhaps McKenzie has the prototype to do it. Only time will tell.
With success throughout his coaching career at domestic level, Ewen McKenzie thoroughly deserves the opportunity to lead his country into battle in the upcoming Rugby Championship. The Reds transformation alone is enough evidence to show that he can steer any ship back to safety. He’s hoping he can be the man to finally break the Bledisloe drought and refill a starving trophy cabinet.