Wallabies coach Robbie Deans will have to reapply for his position when his contract runs out at the end of the year, the new ARU chief executive Bill Pulver says.
Deans has made it clear he wants to keep his position through to the 2015 World Cup in England and has already told Pulver, who was appointed on Wednesday, of his intention.
Pulver, 53, who will start his new job on February 1, told Fairfax Media he discussed the topic with Deans when they met for the first time over breakfast this week.
At the press conference to announce he was succeeding John O’Neill as the ARU’s boss, Pulver said Deans was not under threat to keep his position for the remainder of his contract, during which the Wallabies will play 14 Tests, including three against the British and Irish Lions.
Asked if Deans would have to reapply for the Wallabies coaching job if he wants to continue in it, Pulver said: ”Yes.”
Pulver also said when the ARU called for nominations for the position, the former Crusaders coach had indicated he had every intention of reapplying.
Deans has coached the Wallabies since 2008 and, before last year’s World Cup, had his contract extended. But recently, he has come under scrutiny as the Wallabies dropped a place to No.3 in the world rankings.
”There is no question that Robbie, and I am sure a number of other coaches, will really want to take the Australian rugby team right through to the 2015 World Cup,” Pulver said.
Asked if Deans revealed his ambitions in their talk, he said: ”Absolutely. He is loving the role and he wants to push on for as long as he can.”
Pulver also said he was encouraged by Deans’s optimism for what the Wallabies squad could produce on the field this year.
”He is looking forward to 2013 in a big way,” Pulver said. ”We have a fabulous year ahead. I was pleased with what I heard, very pleased.”
Before the ARU looks to appoint the next Wallabies coach, Pulver said he would outline the selection process and timeline.
”It’s premature for me to suggest that I have a solution in mind for how we select the next coach. Needless to say, a lot of attention will be focused on that leading up to it,” Pulver said.
”We have got some time this year to put together the specification for the role [as the next Wallabies coach]. And we will do that deliberately and carefully, and in due course I will let you know all the details.”
Pulver’s appointment is his first in sports administration but he has 20 years of experience as chief executives of companies in Australia, Japan, Britain and the US. The aim of his first month in the job will be ”to listen and learn” before implementing change at the ARU.
Pulver also said a priority would be to appoint a new ARU high performance director following David Nucifora’s recent departure from the position.
”The structure and leadership of the [ARU] high performance unit is right at the top of the to-do list. We will be looking at that,” Pulver said. ”There are a lot of opinions about that in terms of how that should function, but we will be addressing that very, very quickly.”
Pulver also hopes to catch up with O’Neill. Pulver has never met him, but said he wanted to hear O’Neill’s views on where the game was heading and what hurdles await.
”Australian rugby owes a great debt to John. He gave 14 years of his life for the betterment of the game,” Pulver said. ”I am really looking forward to the opportunity, now that it has been announced, to get in touch with him and listen to his views about … the challenges ahead.”
- Rugby Heaven