Leicester Tigers have appointed Australian Dan McKellar as their head coach for the 2023-24 season.
The 46-year-old former ACT Brumbies boss stepped down as Australia forwards coach on Wednesday to take the role.
He joins the Premiership champions on a “long-term” deal as the permanent replacement for Steve Borthwick, who left for the England job in December.
McKellar says it “has been a big decision” to leave the Wallabies before the World Cup for the Tigers job.
“The Tigers DNA is built around a combative style of rugby, with a strong set-piece and defence, and that is something that I felt aligned strongly with myself,” he told the Premiership club’s website.
“I see a squad of players at Leicester Tigers that I believe can evolve, can grow and have areas that I can add value to and help develop individuals to improve the team as a whole.
“It is important to me that the Leicester Tigers side I lead is one that represents what the club is about and what it stands for.”
McKellar, who was head coach of Australian Super Rugby side Brumbies between 2018 and 2022, follows a similar path to Borthwick to the job at Mattioli Woods Welford Road.
Borthwick left Eddie Jones’ England coaching staff for the the Leicester post in 2020, with McKellar leaving a similar role under his fellow Australian – who is now in charge of the Wallabies.
‘McKellar fits Tigers’
Tigers are currently in the hands of former England scrum-half Richard Wigglesworth, who ended his playing career at the age of 39 to replace Borthwick on an interim basis.
However, Wigglesworth is set to leave at the end of the season to reunite with Borthwick in the England set-up.
In a season of upheaval – that saw Borthwick leave Tigers just months after guiding them to their first English title for nine years – Tigers sit eighth in the Premiership but are just three points adrift of the top four.
Their hopes of reaching the play-offs this season and mounting a title defence were boosted with a narrow victory over leaders Saracens at the weekend, in what was a repeat of last season’s final.
Tigers chief executive Andrea Pinchen says McKellar, who will officially start the job on 1 July, had been a standout candidate for the job since they first began looking for potential Borthwick successors.
“This has been a rigorous process, over a period of almost six months, and always been about ensuring that we found the very best coach to lead this club into the future and Dan McKellar is that coach,” she said.
“In all of the stages of this process, from early on in using data analytics to identify a list of 40 potential candidates, right up until meeting him and his family, we have been hugely impressed by the way in which Dan fits what Leicester Tigers is about.”
‘A shrewd appointment’ – analysis
BBC Radio Leicester’s Tigers reporter Adam Whitty
For those of us in the northern hemisphere Dan McKellar may not be the biggest ‘name’ Tigers could have picked, but this seems a shrewd appointment after an extensive, and expensive, head coach search.
He has impressive experience at Australia and Brumbies and, with McKellar’s strengths in set-piece coaching, you sense his style will suit the Tigers tradition of physical, forwards-focused rugby.
Tigers CEO Andrea Pinchen told us that Steve Borthwick helped significantly with Tigers’ choice to succeed him full time and, rumour has it, Borthwick went to McKellar for advice on rolling mauls. He was clearly impressed with what he saw.
It’s a relief off the shoulders of Tigers and their interim Richard Wigglesworth, who now can simply focus on the remainder of the season.