Newly appointed Australia coach Dave Rennie said this week that the All Blacks left it too late to secure his services, with the “proud” New Zealander now focused on mentoring their arch-rivals.
New Zealand Rugby bosses have ruled out a foreign coach for the All Blacks and revealed this month they had asked 26 New Zealanders to apply for the coveted job, left vacant by Steve Hansen after the World Cup.
Rennie was one of those contacted: “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,” he told rugby.com.au
“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.”
New Zealand has said its new coaching team will be named before Christmas, but it has now missed out on at least three high-profile candidates.
Along with Rennie, Jamie Joseph ruled himself out of consideration after opting to remain as Japan coach, whereas former Wales boss Warren Gatland also turned down an offer to apply, focusing instead on the Waikato Chiefs and coaching the British and Irish Lions in 2021.
All Blacks assistant Ian Foster and three-time Super Rugby-winning Crusaders coach Scott Robertson now appear to be the front-runners.
New Zealand Rugby chairman Brent Impey said he was aware that Rennie had been talking to Australia.
“We have known for some time that Dave was in talks with Rugby Australia, so we have been clear about his position regarding the All Blacks head coach position,” he said.
“We congratulate Dave on his appointment and wish him the best.”
Rennie will take over from Michael Cheika in July next year after fulfilling his commitments to current club Glasgow Warriors.
He is the second New Zealander to be handed the job after Robbie Deans almost a decade ago.
Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle admitted there were no suitable Australians in the running, with Rennie vowing to get the fans onside despite not being a local.
“I think Australians want their national team coached by an Australian and I’m okay with that,” he 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, I’m 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 coming through and good pathways for them.” — AFP