Leeds coach Tony Smith has been appointed as Great Britain's new coach after signing a two-and-a-half year deal with the Rugby Football League.
It's a great honour and one that I am relishing
Great Britain coach Tony Smith
But the Australian will combine his new role with his post at Leeds until the end of the season.
"Britain has some of the best young players in the world and my job will be to develop this crop of players into the best team in the world," he said.
Smith replaces Brian Noble, who did the job on a part-time basis, at the helm.
The RFL did not renew Noble's contract - or those of his assistants Jon Sharp and Dave Lyon - after last year's Tri-Nations Series failure.
I want Great Britain and, after this year, England to be the best in the world
Rugby Football League boss Richard Lewis
"It has been a lengthy process finding a new Great Britain coach," said RFL executive chairman Richard Lewis.
"With no international matches until June we were prepared to take whatever time was necessary to ensure we found the right man.
"We had applicants from all over the world for this role which shows how highly regarded the job of Great Britain coach is - but one candidate stood out from the rest and that man is Tony Smith."
The 40-year-old's first match in charge is set to be against France in June, and the Lions also have a three-Test series against New Zealand at the end of the season.
Smith, the second Australian to coach Britain after David Waite, will then become England coach for the 2008 World Cup, with the Lions set-up taking a back seat for the foreseeable future.
It is 37 years since Britain last won the Ashes from Australia and they have slipped to third behind New Zealand in the rankings over the last two years by failing to reach the final of the Tri-Nations Series.
"I want Tony to challenge us all to move ourselves from number three in the rankings to the top of the world," added Lewis.
"I want Great Britain and, after this year, England to be the best in the world."
Other names linked with the post include Smith's fellow Australians Shaun McRae and John Lang and ex-Wigan centre Joe Lydon.
Former Wigan great Shaun Edwards, who is currently working in union with Wasps, ruled himself out of the running for family reasons.
"We were looking for someone who has a proven track record for winning silverware but also developing youth," added Lewis.
"You only have to look at Tony's record at Leeds, where his trophy-winning teams have featured excellent young British talent to see that we have the right man for the job."
Smith took over as Leeds coach from Daryl Powell in November 2003 after a spell with the Huddersfield Giants.
Leeds fans can rest assured that I'll continue to give my all for the club until the end of the season
During his reign at Headingley, Leeds won one Grand Final - their first league success in 32 years - and, were runners-up in another and reached one Challenge Cup final.
"I have thoroughly enjoyed my four seasons at Leeds and am proud of what I have achieved there," he added.
"Fans of the club can rest assured that I will continue to give my all for the club until the end of the season, whilst at the same time starting with the Great Britain set-up.
"It's a great honour and one that I am relishing."
Smith played for St George in Australia and Workington in the first season of Super League before beginning his coaching career at Adelaide.
He then moved on to Parramatta to work with his brother Brian, before travelling to England to take over at Huddersfield.