Queensland Reds coach Ewen McKenzie says that the announcement of Richard Graham as his successor is not linked to his prospect of becoming Wallabies coach next year.
The Reds confirmed on Tuesday that Graham, who currently coaches the Western Force, will take over from McKenzie as the Reds' head coach from the 2013 Super Rugby season. McKenzie will move next year into a director of coaching role and from 2014 into a new position as Queensland's director of rugby.
McKenzie said on Tuesday that the recruitment of Graham and his own appointments were aimed at improving Queensland rugby and were not linked to the Wallabies job, which may be vacated next year by Robbie Deans.
Deans is contracted until 2013 and it is not yet certain whether he will seek re-appointment.
"People speculate about this all the time," McKenzie said. "I don't have any thoughts external to Queensland rugby.
"You can speculate all you want about the motivations. In the end we are trying to put in place the best model for Queensland rugby. I have had no discussions with the ARU about anything."
Australian Rugby Union chief executive John O'Neill has strongly supported McKenzie as a future Wallabies coach after the former international prop took the Reds to their first Super Rugby title last season.
But McKenzie said he was not thinking of anything at present, other than the future strength of Queensland rugby. He said he would work closely next year with Graham, a former Reds fullback, to ensure the 39-year-old made a smooth transition into the head coaching role.
In 2014, McKenzie will turn his attention to broader issues, including the redevelopment of Ballymore stadium.
"It's not often in rugby, let alone sport where you get to plan for the future," McKenzie said.
"We have been able to have a good look at the succession side of things. This is part of an ongoing process where we make sure we have the right people with the right input at the right time.
"My time is finite. It always is in coaching. You have to prepare for other things," he explained.
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