Ewen McKenzie was Sunday savouring Super Rugby glory after his Reds saw off the Crusaders to finally break his personal hoodoo.
McKenzie had lost two previous finals to the Crusaders, when in charge of the Waratahs, in 2005 and 2008.
But all that was forgotten after he mastered the Reds to an 18-13 victory in Brisbane at the weekend and he is now a coach in demand - and widely considered the next coach of the Wallabies.
The Queensland Rugby Union is this week expected to shore up a new deal with McKenzie to keep him onboard.
"I'm contracted for next year and we have already talked about life beyond that, but we've been busy so now we have a chance for more discussions," McKenzie said.
He admitted final success was made the more sweeter for him as it came against the Crusaders, who also won the 2000 decider against the Brumbies when he was an assistant coach there.
"Personally, that's my fourth Final and sure enough the Crusaders have always been against you," he said.
"It's an even more satisfying result because they've been the best team in the competition for so long."
McKenzie took over from Eddie Jones in late 2009, sparking an abrupt reversal in fortunes.
It started after the final round of the 2007 Super Rugby season - the lowest point in the proud history of the Reds – when they suffered a humiliating 92-3 hammering by a Bulls side who were anointed as champions for the first time a fortnight later.
Reds captain James Horwill was part of that debacle, so last the weekend's nerve-jangling defeat of the Crusaders was especially satisfying for the Wallabies lock.
"That's probably the lowest point we've ever been, that game in Pretoria, and unfortunately I was part of that," he said.
"Now we're arguably at the highest point we've ever been. To do that in a short amount of time has been pretty special. To be part of that is pretty cool to be honest."
McKenzie, now assured of honorary Queenslander status, improved the squad to fifth last year and to the ultimate prize 14 months later – a decade after the Reds last made the play-offs.
The World Cup-winning prop was irked last week when the Crusaders were installed as the bookie's favourite despite their travel schedule and the fact his side finished the new conference format on top of the table.
Queensland also boasted a formidable record against the Crusaders – the weekend's cliff-hanger was a worthy sequel to the 17-16 victory the Reds achieved on May 29; last year's 41-20 was a walk in Suncorp Stadium by comparison while McKenzie pointed out they had also won their last two pre-season trials.
"I was always confident we were going to be competitive," he said.
"Everyone talks like it's a big surprise. I reckon we've stood up plenty of times. Our guys are handling it up front and handling it out the back.
"We went into the game confident if we could get the tactical part of it right, we knew across the 80 minutes we could do it."
AFP & AAP
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