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McKenzie: I'm no threat to Deans

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Sportal.co.nz     20 Mar 2013     Getty Images

McKenzie declared on Tuesday he wanted an international job and was ready to coach the Wallabies after confirming he would leave his role as Reds director of coaching at the end of the season.

The veteran coach said the major reason for his decision was because he was after a new challenge and he also wanted to provide the QRU with some clarity to start planning for 2014.

But the speculation has already begun that McKenzie has his eye on Deans' Wallabies post.

Deans, who has been in charge of Australia for five years, is contracted until the end of the season and ARU boss Bill Pulver has intimated a contract extension is a strong possibility.

Asked if he felt his decision to quit the Reds would increase the heat on Deans, McKenzie said: "I don't think it will put pressure on Robbie Deans at all.

"He's got the job and I don't think this will change anything in his day-to-day life.

"You guys love conspiracy theories.

"I have made the decision because it is about doing the right thing by the Reds. I could have waited until August and said 'by the way, I am leaving'.

"I spent a lot of time here trying to rebuild a team and reputation. It has been a four-year assignment which I have enjoyed."

McKenzie has done a superb job since coming to the Reds in 2009, leading them to the Super Rugby title two years later.

It's not the first time he has been close to the Wallabies' top job, overlooked in 2006 when Eddie Jones' tenure ended.

While McKenzie felt he was up to the job at that stage, he now feels he has the experience to take on the role.

"It is seven years later," he said.

"If I wasn't ready I wouldn't say I would be - I am ready for the next level and I'm interested in the next level.

"But every level you go up there is less jobs and maybe there won't be any opportunities.

"That's a risk I'm willing to take."

After more than a decade involved in coaching at Super Rugby level, McKenzie said he felt like the time was right to look at a new challenge.

And he owed it to the Reds to make a decision early in the season.

"This is about providing clarity," McKenzie said.

"We are in the recruiting phase for 2014 and I think it was important to provide certainty to the staff and players as to what were my intentions.

"But I am still here running this Reds program this year and we are still hopeful of being successful - then we will see what happens.

"I have been a head coach at this level for nine years and as assistant for another three. From a coaching challenge point of view I would love to be able to coach at a higher level.

"But wanting it and getting an opportunity are two different things. If there are any opportunities I will have a look at it."

The Reds, who were surprise last-start losers against the Western Force, host South Africa's Bulls at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night.