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Last Updated: Friday, 2 December 2005, 11:44 GMT
Johnson coy on Australia job link
Wales skills coach Scott Johnson
Wales skills coach Scott Johnson says he is concentrating on the build-up to the Six Nations rather than on talk linking him with the Wallabies job.

The Australia Rugby Union (ARU) is looking to replace sacked coach Eddie Jones and says Johnson's work with Wales has been "excellent".

But Johnson told BBC Wales Sport: "My focus is on the Wales team and the Six Nations campaign ahead."

NSW coach Ewen McKenzie has expressed his interest in the vacant position.

"I've always said that if the job becomes available down the track, then I would apply for it," said McKenzie.

"I'm fully committed to coaching the Waratahs next year but see no reason why I couldn't make the transition to the national job immediately afterwards, if I was the successful candidate."

McKenzie, a former Wallaby prop who won the World Cup in 1991, was appointed coach of the Waratahs in 2004 and took the team to the 2005 Super 12 final.

The Waratahs have said they would release McKenzie if asked.

Scott's done a fantastic job with Wales and made a significant contribution to the success of the Welsh team
Gary Flowers
ARU chief executive

"We fully support Ewen's ambition to be Wallaby coach and will not stand in his way if he is selected," said Waratahs chairman Arvid Petersen.

"Part of our role is to produce coaches as well as players and if the ARU chooses Ewen as its next mentor then we will release him at the end of the Super 14 season."

Meanwhile, Aussie-born Johnson turned down an offer to be Jones' assistant in 2004.

But the charismatic character, who has been part of the Wales coaching set-up since February 2001, hinted he would be willing to listen to offers for the top job.

Johnson, who has committed himself to Wales until next March, said: "My current employers have been fantastic to me and we will continue to talk.

"They will get first refusal on my services.

"Australia have come knocking before, people forget that. I've got a Six Nations campaign I'm trying to prepare for.

"But I'll look at everything that suits me. I'll have to take the whole thing in with the family."

David Nucifora and John Mitchell are the other men to be linked with the Australia job.

Nucifora won two caps for Australia as a hooker and, after leading the Brumbies to the Super 12 title in 2004, is now technical advisor at the Auckland Blues.

Mitchell, the former England forwards and All Blacks coach, is in charge of Australia's new Super 14 franchise Western Force.

Johnson would be considered a bit of a risky appointment considering his lack of experience as a head coach, but he has been credited with reintroducing some of the old flair to the Wales side.

The ARU will set up a panel, which will include former World Cup winning coach Rod Macqueen, to assess the possible candidates to succeed Jones.

And chief executive Gary Flowers said Johnson is likely to come under the microscope.

Flowers told BBC Wales Sport: "I don't wish to speculate as to names - I'll leave that to the expert panel - and I suppose it's up to Scott if he's interested.

"Scott has done a fantastic job with Wales and made a significant contribution to the success of the Welsh team.

"We will cast a broad net and that means it may be Australian coaches here [in Australia], Australia coaches overseas, or, for that matter, overseas coaches."

Johnson said he will sit down with the Welsh Rugby Union early in the new year to discuss his future with Wales.

"I never sign contracts," he added. "I just shake hands and get on with it. That's my mentality, that's my personality and I'd rather do it that way."




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