Where to next for top coach Ewen 'The Link' McKenzie?
cs announcement that he will be leaving the Reds after this year's Super Rugby season was no surprise.
Well, possibly that he is leaving so early.
But once he moved from head coach last year to the position he created as Coaching Director, and the QRU appointed Richard Graham as Reds coach for 2013, McKenzie's tenure was always a matter of time.
And what I know of Ewen, he epitomises the 'professional' business manager/CEO.
He lives for planning, career-management and (the vitally important) succession planning.
Driven by him, the QRU would have known McKenzie's future aspirations, with a time-line.
So what does The Link do after August?
For an aspirational career-coach, and one that has eventual designs on coaching at the national level, there are only six jobs available in the Aussie market: the five Super Rugby head coaching jobs; and Wallabies coach.
Looking deeper, you possibly wouldn't touch the Force and the Rebels, and McKenzie has already coached at the Waratahs, Brumbies (as assistant), and the Reds.
Of course, there's a timing issue, too. The jobs have to be available and then you need to be the best available candidate at that time.
The other option is coaching at the provincial/professional or national level for a competitor.
I'm happy with the first option (coaching at the provincial/professional level OS), but not coaching a national competitor.
In fact, having McKenzie coach a New Zealand Super Rugby team would offer him special knowledge of the NZ rugby market, its players, and how they go about their rugby.
I'm happy with that, but it does not have him in our market.
And who knows, if he's successful, maybe he'll be offered the Kiwi job (I can feel my Kiwi friends' jaws simultaneously hitting the floor!).
I posed the question, what does McKenzie do after August.
I think another, and the more prudent, way we need to approach his future is to ask this question: what can Aussie rugby do to make sure he's part of our system?
As far as I'm concerned, we need McKenzie's intellectual property within our rugby market.
The other available role in Aussie rugby is Head of High Performance.
The role was previously held by David Nucifora, before he fell victim to politics surrounding John O'Neill's departure from the ARU.
McKenzie would be perfect for this position with his skill-set and knowledge of Australian rugby.
But it's not a coaching role, so I would be surprised if that's an option for him.
It appears the only real options left for him are coaching overseas, whether at the provincial or national level, or waiting for the Aussie job to hit the market, and pray he's the best applicant.
This whole Wallaby coach saga will become a lot clearer after the up-coming international season.
Depending on how the Wallabies perform and the results against the British and Irish Lions, and to lesser extent, the Rugby Championship (between Australia, NZ, South Africa and Argentina) will determine Link's fate.