Two Super Rugby coaching jobs are up for grabs in New Zealand and one in Australia, with the latter arguably the most attractive to aspiring Kiwis.

For Scott Robertson and Leon MacDonald - the two best New Zealand coaches not working in Super Rugby - the Reds jump out as a better bet than either the Crusaders or Highlanders who will both shortly begin their hunt for respective successors to Todd Blackadder and Jamie Joseph.

Forging a career in Australia hasn't been a pathway many New Zealand coaches have considered. John Mitchell gave it a try when he joined the Western Force in 2006 and Waratahs head coach Daryl Gibson is the only other New Zealander happy to work across the Tasman.

Both would admit, though, that they headed that way more out of necessity than choice as offers within New Zealand weren't forthcoming. That may be the same scenario in which Robertson and MacDonald find themselves.


The Highlanders and Crusaders may already have a clear idea about succession. The superbly analytical Tony Brown is presumably going to step up at the Highlanders, while the Crusaders, too, may not look past their current assistant, Tabai Matson.

But neither Robertson nor MacDonald - who have huge potential after enjoying success respectively at Canterbury and Tasman and together with the New Zealand Under-20s - should see the Reds as a consolation option. Australia shouldn't be viewed as a coaching graveyard - a place where unwanted New Zealand coaches go to die.

The Reds, a basket case for longer than the Blues, have this giant gap between potential and reality. If they were climbing Everest, they have somehow managed to slip below Base Camp.

While Aucklanders feel their side is hands-down the tournament's great underachiever, they don't get close to the Reds. Queensland have largely been awful for the better part of the last 15 years with one giant aberration in 2011 when they won the title.

That championship win five years ago was the more accurate reflection of their true standing. Queensland is Super Rugby's sleeping giant. It has more than 15,000 junior players alone - more than most New Zealand regions have in total.

There is a strong schools competition; the wider economy booms along with corporates always interested in putting sponsorship money somewhere and it's an alluring place to live, which is a plus for player recruitment.

The problem it seems is that the best athletes - or most of them at least - are finding their way to League and the AFL. A bit of reading between the lines also suggests that the club has been crippled by internecine politics in recent years and what better way to knock that for six than by hiring a New Zealander who comes with no bias, allegiance or baggage?

The Reds only have upside as the sort of place an up and coming coach could make a name for himself.

In contrast, the Highlanders may already be on their way down from the summit which they reached last year. For all their resourcefulness, bravery and ability to defy the odds, it's a struggle to see them returning to the top. Making it back to the Hillary Step as it were, yes, but winning another title in the next few years - possibly that's going to beyond them.

The Deep South can't tick the foundation boxes the same way Queensland can and their star may fade as quickly as it shone.

As for the Crusaders, that's a no-win job if ever there was one. Blackadder has coached the Crusaders to two finals and four semifinals and been considered, comparatively, not quite good enough.

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