Macqueen to stand down coach

2011-06-16 10:00

Sydney - Rugby World Cup winner Rod Macqueen is to stand down as Melbourne Rebels coach at the end of the season and be replaced by his assistant Damien Hill, the Super rugby franchise said on Thursday.

Macqueen, who led Australia to their 1999 World Cup triumph, will remain with the Rebels as director of coaching until the end of next season and said succession was always part of the plan.

"Damien is very respected by peers and players alike, and he strongly reflects the culture that we are endeavouring to build at the Rebels," Macqueen, 61, said in a news release.

"I believe in what the club stands for and I am determined to do what I can to ensure that these formative years lay a foundation for a truly great club and business.

"We have the most important ingredient, quality people, now we must realise our full potential."

The Rebels have had a mixed debut season after becoming the 15th team in the southern hemisphere's annual provincial championship.

A fourth victory of the year in front of their passionate fans in their season-ender against the Western Force on Friday would see them avoid the wooden spoon but they have conceded more points than any other team in racking up 12 defeats.

In addition to that, the exclusion of marquee signing Danny Cipriani over the former England flyhalf's disciplinary problems hurt the team both on and off the pitch.

Wallabies fullback Kurtley Beale, who can also play at flyhalf, has been signed up for next season and Australian media reports have said James O'Connor, the country's most exciting young talent, is set to join him.

"This is the next step for me and I am fortunate to have the ongoing support of Rod," said Hill.

"What excites me the most about this opportunity is the chance to build on the hard work that has been done up until this point. The foundations for success have clearly been laid, but we need to continue this moving forward."