Rugby: Brown not interested in job

Tony Brown.
Tony Brown.
The Highlanders have started the process to find a new head coach but the leading candidate has ruled himself out of the job.

The franchise announced yesterday it was keen to get the process of finding a new coach under way and it was actively seeking expressions of interest over the next month with an eye to appointing someone in June.

Head coach Jamie Joseph, after six years in the job, is off to coach Japan at the end of the Super rugby season.

The man seen by many as the favourite to step into Joseph's shoes, assistant coach Tony Brown, said yesterday he would not seek the position.

When contacted yesterday, Brown said he was not interested in the head coaching job.

He had signed an extension for next year as a Highlanders assistant coach and that was where he was happy.

Brown said he felt he could have more influence on the team with the job he was doing as an assistant.

Highlanders chief executive Roger Clark confirmed Brown was not going to apply for the job but was confident there would be high interest in the position.

‘‘We have got a vastly experienced group of people in this organisation who know pretty much coaches around the world but, at the end of the day, we are now going out and publicly looking for interest,'' he said.

‘‘We would like to make a shortlist of candidates by the end of May and then by June hope to make an appointment.''

He said it was up to people to apply and there was plenty of talk about potential candidates.

Former Australian and Crusaders coach Robbie Deans had ruled himself out of the job, Clark said.

Whoever gets the job will have to work with the other assistant coaches and will not be able to bring in his own staff.

‘‘We have worked really, really hard to build a really high-performing coaching and management team at the Highlanders and we are there now,'' he said.

‘‘It is important that the coach that we get is excited to be working with that high-performing team and has that ability to take it to the next level.''

Clark said the coaching process did not appear to be unsettling for the players.

‘‘The whole team here are concentrating on the job at hand and already we have 25 guys signed for next year with another couple of announcements to come out in the next couple of days.

‘‘It does not seem to be having any impact on retention that is for sure.''

He said overseas candidates could be considered. He had talked to a few people already but had no firm inquiries.

Clark said the new coach would not come on board until the end of the 2016 season, which finishes in August.

It was the ideal time to look for a coach as the Japanese season was over and the northern hemisphere season was not far away from concluding.

The selection of the coach would be a joint exercise between the Highlanders and New Zealand Rugby but the final decision would be made by the Highlanders board.

Highlanders assistant coach Scott McLeod said yesterday he was in negotiations with the Highlanders to extend his stay but declined to say whether he would be interested in the top job.

Players spoken to yesterday said the coaching search was having no impact on the team's performance.

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