Rugby: Penney latest coach to rule himself out

Rob Penney.
Rob Penney.

Does anyone want to coach the Highlanders next season?

Rob Penney has become the latest coach to rule himself out of seeking the Highlanders head coaching position.

Penney had been mooted as a contender to step into Jamie Joseph's shoes but he told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he would not be considered for the job.

Penney said he was not in the loop for the job and was not in a position to consider himself for the post.

Asked if he was chasing the Crusaders head coaching position, given Todd Blackadder is moving on at the end of the season, he said that was also unlikely.

He declined further comment.

Penney is contracted to Japanese club NTT Communications for one more year and will return to the Japanese club shortly.

Penney, who will turn 52 this month, has been floating around the coaching scene for more than a decade and has enjoyed success with Canterbury at provincial level and also had plenty of success with Irish side Munster.

But, for whatever reason, he does not seem to fit into the Super rugby coaching picture in New Zealand.

He was keen on the Highlanders position when Glenn Moore left at the end of 2010 season but was passed over in favour of Joseph.

Penney joins other potential candidates such as Tony Brown to have ruled themselves out.

Brown said last month he would not be seeking the position and has signed on for another year as an assistant coach. He felt he could have more impact on the team as an assistant coach and was happy in that role.

Robbie Deans, who is coaching Panasonic in Japan, has also ruled himself out of the job.

The Highlanders have commercial connections with Panasonic but Deans is said to not be interested in returning to Super rugby.

Assistant coach Scott McLeod last week said negotiations were continuing with Highlanders management for a new deal but he has declined to say whether he is interested in seeking the head coaching role. He has never held a head coaching position.

It seems the only coach who has declared his hand and openly wants to coach at this level is former England coach Stuart Lancaster.

Lancaster, who resigned after the poor performance by England at last year's World Cup, told the BBC earlier this week he was keen to coach at a Super rugby level.

He was in New Zealand, Australia and South Africa earlier this year meeting franchises to discuss coaching options.

Lancaster said he wanted to get back into coaching as he did not want to sit and dwell on what had happened with England last year and still felt he had something to offer.

It seems hard to believe any New Zealand franchise would take a punt on a coach such as Lancaster.

It is just under a month since the Highlanders asked for expressions of interest and a shortlist was due to be drawn up by the end of next month.

The successful candidate will be named by June but will not start in the role until the end of the season.

Judging by the interest so far, the shortlist may be very short.

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