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McKenzie keeping coaching options open
ESPN Staff
May 2, 2013
Quade Cooper sits alongside Ewen McKenzie on the day he signed a new contract, Brisbane, Australia, December 7, 2012
Ewen McKenzie (r) hopes Beau Robinson's return will give Quade Cooper (l) more attacking options © Getty Images
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Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie is uncertain over his coaching future after being overlooked by Ireland as their next Test coach.

The qualified town planner spoke of his career options on Wednesday after New Zealander Joe Schmidt was appointed as the replacement for the sacked Declan Kidney by the Irish Rugby Football Union last week.

The Super Rugby title-winning coach has ambitions to mentor at a higher level and will hand over the Reds responsibilities to his assistant Richard Graham at the end of the season.

McKenzie is one of the favourites to replace current Wallabies coach Robbie Deans should he lose favour with the Australian Rugby Union, a situation that is more likely to occur should Australia lose to the British & Irish Lions in June-July this year.

As reported in the The Courier Mail, McKenzie is keeping his options open, including working for a rival Super Rugby outfit or taking a break from coaching altogether.

"I'll do something else. It's pretty simple,'' he said. "I'm a never-say-never guy. I might not even do rugby at all. There are options. It's just a question of direction and whether the challenge is interesting. I've been successful in taking things that are pretty broken and making them better. In that sense there'll always be work.''

For now, McKenzie's attention is well and truly on Queensland's Super Rugby match against the Western Force in Perth on Saturday, a critical fixture for the Reds as they try to overhaul Australian conference leaders, the Brumbies.

Despite being hammered by the Brumbies in round 11, the Force have a reputation as giant-killers, having beaten the Crusaders last month and upsetting the Reds in their past two encounters.

In an attempt to keep his side fresh, McKenzie has opted for a new-look front row this weekend, with versatile front-rower Albert Anae coming into loose-head prop at the expense of James Slipper, who moves to the bench.

Openside flanker Beau Robinson makes a welcome return after recovering from an ankle injury and his availability provides another running option for fly-half Quade Cooper.

"To have the option on the inside in attack ... you can get good value and it keeps the defenders guessing,'' McKenzie said.

© ESPN Australia / New Zealand
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