McKenzie 'interested' in Ireland job
Ewen McKenzie could be prepared to shelve his stated ambition of coaching Australia if the opportunity arose for him to take charge of Ireland.
McKenzie is the favourite in a narrowing field of potential candidates to replace Declan Kidney, whose departure was announced on Tuesday after Ireland finished fifth in the RBS 6 Nations. The former Australia prop told Sydney's Daily Telegraph he had not been in contact with the IRFU - but he also left them in no doubt he would be interested in a conversation.
"I have said I am looking for coaching challenges at the next level and I am looking for whatever the possibilities are," McKenzie said. "It's the type of job I am interested in looking at but there have been no discussions."
Harlequins director of rugby Conor O'Shea has ruled himself out of contention and Saracens chief executive Edward Griffiths insisted Mark McCall is committed to the club.
McKenzie has been linked with the Ireland role since announcing he would step down as Queensland Reds head coach at the end of the current Super Rugby season to pursue a job at international level.
He added: "I have stated I would like the Wallabies job but it's all in the timing. You have to look around what's available when you're looking for a job.
"I have made it clear the challenge of coaching at that level is what interests me but there aren't many opportunities at Test level and you can't control the timing."
O'Shea was immediately tipped for the job, having guided Harlequins from the Bloodgate saga to Aviva Premiership champions and into this weekend's Heineken Cup quarter-finals against Munster, but the former Ireland full-back insisted that even the lure of coaching his country was not enough to turn his back on a project at Harlequins he believes still has a long way to run.
"I'm going nowhere. My contract is here (until the summer of 2014), I love it here and hopefully I will be here for a long time to come," O'Shea said. "Of course you are flattered (to be linked) but my job is here."
Joel Schmidt is a strong contender for the Ireland job, having guided Leinster to back-to-back Heineken Cup triumphs with one of the most scintillating attacking teams in Europe.