Leicester Tigers' new head coach had a successful career as a player before going into coaching
Dan McKellar was appointed Leicester Tigers head coach to replace interim Richard Wigglesworth who joins the England set-up with former boss Steve Borthwick.
McKellar had been an assistant coach for Australia since 2o21, and head coach of the Brumbies between 2018 and 2022.
His departure is a blow for new Wallabies head coach Eddie Jones as he looks to pull off a “smash and grab” at the Rugby World Cup 2023.
Read more: Australia Rugby World Cup squad
Related: Rugby Fixtures
Ten things you should know about Dan McKellar
1, Dan McKellar was born on 17 July 1976 in Brisbane, Australia. He stands at 190cm and was listed as weighing 112kg when playing for the Queensland Reds in 2006.
2. He attended Townsville Grammar School, and it was here that he was first introduced to the game of rugby.
3. He played more than 150 times at loosehead prop for Brisbane-based club Souths RFC, winning the Queensland Premier Rugby competition in 2000. He would return to Souths in 2007 as assistant coach before becoming head coach there from 2008 to 2010, and in 2009 they finished runners-up in the prestigious regional competition under his leadership.
4. He also had stints playing in Scotland and in Ireland, and it was on the Emerald Isle that he began his coaching journey with Wicklow RFC just south of Dublin, becoming a player-coach in 2002. Ireland international Josh van der Flier was a part of the minis and juniors section of the club at the time.
5. McKellar took charge of Canberra John I Dent Cup side the Tuggeranong Vikings in 2011 and 2012. He guided the Vikings to back-to-back Australian Capital Territory Premiership wins, developing a relationship with the Brumbies along the way.
6. The Brisbane-born coach also spent a season in 2013 coaching in Japan with Japan League One side NTT DoCoMo Red Hurricanes, based in Osaka. He took them to a seventh-placed finish in Group 2 that season, meaning they failed to qualify for the knockout stages of the competition.
7. While he may be less known to many northern hemisphere rugby fans, he is thought of extremely highly in Australian rugby coaching spheres. Brumbies coach and Wallabies centurion Stephen Larkham told the Canberra Times in 2017: “He’s extremely intelligent, very motivated and passionate about the Brumbies as an organisation. He’ll lead the team really well, appointing him will be a no-brainer.” McKellar was selected as head coach of the Brumbies ahead of the 2018 Super Rugby season.
8. In 2016, while still an assistant coach with the Brumbies, he was slapped with an AUS $10,000 fine for ‘using crude or insulting language’ towards a match official following his side’s Super Rugby quarter-final loss to the Otago Highlanders. The controversial call that McKellar contested was a disallowed try by the TMO, despite multiple camera angles appearing to show a clear grounding. He has since apologised to the referee.
9. In his four years as head coach, he took the ACT Brumbies to back-to-back Super Rugby AU finals, winning the Grand Final 28-23 in front of their home crowd in 2020 against the Queensland Reds, but the same opponents would edge them 19-16 in the 2021 final at Suncorp Stadium.
10. Current England head coach Steve Borthwick is said to have had a large part to play in McKellar’s appointment, and the Premiership-winning coach is even rumoured to have asked the Aussie for advice and how to perfect the rolling maul after England’s tour of Australia in 2016.
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