All smiles . . .  the Wallabies new coach John Connolly during a press conference in Sydney yesterday.
All smiles . . . the Wallabies new coach John Connolly during a press conference in Sydney yesterday.

Connolly named Wallabies coach



SYDNEY: (AAP) Queenslander John Connolly was yesterday appointed head coach of the Wallabies through to the 2007 Rugby World Cup in France.

The Australian Rugby Union said Connolly would head a 'more streamlined' and yet to be named coaching management team.

It will have a new structure - consisting of an attack coach, a defence coach and a restarts coach - designed to address key areas identified for improvement.

Connolly, 54, replaces Eddie Jones who was sacked last month after the disastrous 2005 season in which the Wallabies lost eight of their last nine Tests.

He coached Queensland from 1989-2000 before guiding leading European clubs Stade Francais, Swansea and, most recently, Bath.

ARU chief executive Gary Flowers said negotiations with candidates for the assistant coaching positions were continuing.

"Over the past two months we have identified where we need to go," said Flowers.

"I am very pleased to announce today that John Connolly will head the coaching team to take us there.

"We certainly have the players, now we have a head coach with the right skills to get the Wallabies back in a winning vein."

"John's experience in Australia and overseas, his approach to the game and his ability to lead a specialist team made him the outstanding choice.

"Given the challenges we face, a John Connolly-led coaching team is the fresh start Australian rugby needs."

Connolly said he was no illusions about the magnitude of the job ahead.

"I don't mind a challenge and they don't come bigger than winning a World Cup," Connolly said.

"It's a great privilege to coach the national team. We've got 20 Test matches to get the team in a winning position."

"I am focused on the positives. I will have the benefit of a new coaching structure and what will be an excellent coaching team around me.

"Super 14 provides the opportunity to look at more players than we have in the past with greater competition for places."

"We do need to think about the game differently and I think the coaching structure we are looking at is innovative.

"Importantly, with the right people in place it will address the key problems."

Flowers also announced that former Wallaby coach Rod Macqueen will continue as a rugby advisor to the ARU after helping in the review and coaching selection.

"Rod has made an outstanding contribution to the coach selection process and he has had an ongoing role since June last year with a number of projects," Flowers said. "Rugby needs to retain its intellectual property. Rod's ongoing involvement makes a lot of sense."



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