Leicester Tigers end the wait for anxious fans by announcing that Rugby Australia's Dan McKellar will take over as head coach in the summer

The wait is over for Leicester Tigers fans, as the club announced this morning that Rugby Australia assistant coach Dan McKellar will take over the reigns at the East Midlands club ahead of the 2023/24 Gallagher Premiership season.

McKellar was head coach of the ACT Brumbies from 2018 to 2022, guiding them to victory in Super Rugby AU in 2020 and finishing runners-up in 2021.

The Brisbane-born coach also made over 150 appearances as a loosehead prop for Souths’ Rugby Club in Brisbane as a player, as well as spending two seasons with the Queensland Reds in 2005 and 2006.

Dave Rennie and McKellar

Dave Rennie and Dan McKellar coaching Australia (Inpho)

The new head coach speaks

And for McKellar, there is plenty he finds impressive about Premiership Rugby’s current champions.

He said: “There are strong links with the community, with the supporters and knowing that I will be a part of game days at Mattioli Woods Welford Road with 25,000 people in the stands lights a fire for me.

“What else stood out for me was that the club takes great pride in having a very strong academy programme, where we can develop our own players both culturally and from a rugby perspective.”

Tigers’ academy continues to produce a wealth of international players, including current England lock forward Ollie Chessum, who has started in both games in this year’s Six Nations campaign.

“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,” added McKellar.

Tigers CEO Andrea Pinchen was delighted with the appointment, but stressed that it was not an easy decision to make.

“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.

“His style of coaching, his interactions and passion for wanting to improve players, his interest in developing Tigers-made players and our connection with our community has shown he understands the uniqueness of this club.”

Rugby World Cup preparations affected

The news comes as it was announced earlier this month that interim head coach Richard Wigglesworth will be joining former Tigers head coach Steve Borthwick on the coaching staff of England Rugby ahead of the World Cup in France later this year.

Wigglesworth and Walters to join England

Interim Leicester Tigers head coach Richard Wigglesworth (Getty Images)

McKellar departs Rugby Australia effective immediately, striking a significant blow to Eddie Jones’ preparations for the tournament as he tries to assemble a squad capable of winning the Webb Ellis trophy for a record-equalling third time.

But the former England coach will now have to do so without McKellar, who begins his new role with the eleven-time Premiership champions on July 1st.

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