By Wayne Smith
February 02, 2008
BARELY more than a month after he missed out on the Australia coaching job to Robbie Deans, Blues boss David Nucifora is being seriously considered for a senior role on Deans's coaching staff.

The Australian Rugby Union is understood to be debating whether to bring Nucifora on board in the nebulous role of coaching co-ordinator or whether to stick with the more straightforward option of using former Wallabies backrower Jim Williams as an assistant coach.

Nucifora, whose Blues side stole a last-minute victory over Queensland in a pre-Super 14 trial at Ballymore on Thursday night, coyly deflected questions about an involvement later this season with the Wallabies.

"Anything is still a possibility," Nucifora said.

"It would be of interest to me to work with Robbie and I could certainly have an interest in listening to what they (the ARU) have to say.

"Robbie has had incredible success with the Crusaders, he already has had international experience and there is no doubt that he is one of the better coaches in world rugby. But it would have to work for everyone."

It would be an interesting twist if Nucifora were to coach under Deans, and not just because he would have won the Wallabies head coaching job himself had the New Zealand Rugby Union not spurned Deans on political grounds and instead controversially reappointed Graham Henry as All Blacks coach.

Deans then became the first New Zealander appointed to coach the Australia team. Nucifora, in 2005, became the first Australian to take charge of a New Zealand Super 14 side.

The former Queensland and Australia hooker has signed a two-year contract with the Blues, which comes up for review at the end of the season.

"There would be an opportunity then for me to look at my future," Nucifora said.
Speculation that former Reds full-back Richard Graham might be appointed as the Wallabies backs coach meanwhile appears to have been wide of the mark.

The young Saracens staff coach certainly has been identified by the ARU as a coach to watch closely, but indications are that a Wallabies assistant coaching role is regarded as a step too far at this stage of his career.

While it remains unclear who will be coming on to Deans's staff - with the coaching announcement to be made within a fortnight - it is now apparent who is departing.
There will be no role for Rugby World Cup attack coach Scott Johnson - who then would be free to entertain an offer from Cardiff Blues - nor for the longest-surviving member of the coaching team, defence organiser John Muggleton.

Michael Foley, the restarts coach under John Connolly, will be retained, although his role is expected to be defined as "an adviser". Nonetheless, of all the apparent contenders for positions on Deans's staff, Foley is by far the best qualified to fill the role of forwards coach.

Meanwhile, as much as the ARU is celebrating the news that the Wallabies will play a tour-ending match against the Barbarians at Twickenham on December 6, the occasion could have been bigger yet.

The ARU, under former chief executive Gary Flowers, had made a dramatic pitch to UK rugby bosses to play, instead, a historic one-off Test against the British and Irish Lions.

The match, after all, is being sanctioned by the British Olympic Committee and organisers of the 2012 London Games to celebrate the centenary of the original London Olympics of 1908 at which the Wallabies defeated the team representing Great Britain - county champion Cornwall - to win the rugby gold medal.

Why not then stage a match against the modern-day representatives of Great Britain, the ARU asked.
"But the British Lions people were nervous about whether that would confuse their brand," Flowers said.

The British and Irish Lions only play abroad, playing Australia, South Africa and New Zealand in turn every four years on a 12-yearly cycle. The next Lions tour of Australia is scheduled for 2013.

Although the ARU under Flowers entered into a revenue-sharing arrangement with the Lions to lock the tour in place, estimates are the campaign will deliver $30 million to the ARU.

Australia's proposal, however, appears to have triggered some innovative thinking in Britain, with speculation now growing that the 12-yearly Lions cycle could be applied to domestic Tests within Britain, which might see the Lions assembling every two years instead of every four years.,...-23217,00.html