Stiles enters race for Wallabies job

by Sam Phillips

Former Reds coach Nick Stiles has thrown his hat into the ring as a potential replacement for outgoing Wallabies forwards coach Mario Ledesma.

News broke of Ledesma's impending departure after the Wallabies beat the Pumas in Mendoza and that has opened up a prized spot alongside coach Michael Cheika in the national setup.

Cheika forecast a temporary replacement for the Spring Tour before a permanent call is made on the man that will take the team forward and while it's understood Stiles was not among the list of early candidates, those calls were made before he was officially sacked by the QRU.

The former Reds boss told RUGBY.com.au he remains keen to stay in Australia and with the other three Super Rugby clubs all but settled on their staff for 2018, this opportunity would keep Stiles in the Australian system.

Could Nick Stiles fill the hole left by Mario Ledesma? Photo: Getty Images"While my time at the Reds has come to an end, I still feel I have plenty to offer as a coach in Australian rugby," Stiles told RUGBY.com.au.

"I think what I was able to achieve as a forwards coach at both the Force and the Reds is proof of that.

"If the opportunity was to come up, I'd love to be part of what the Wallabies are building.

"They're clearly on their way to bigger and better things and I feel like I could contribute to that moving forward."Stiles' work as a scrum coach with both the Reds and Force was impressive. Photo: Getty ImagesIf Cheika does look elsewhere, it's understood Japan will be Stiles' most realistic next destination, though the lure of Europe also remains a possibility.

Those opportunities won't go anywhere but the chance to be part of the national setup is one Stiles would happily grab with both hands, having put runs on the board with his work as a scrum doctor at the Force and Reds.

His head coaching career may have been cut short, for now, but he did turn a hapless Force scrum into one of Australia's best and did the exact same in Queensland before taking the top job.

The ARU have spoken to the importance of keeping top pro coaches in the country - even if they are former head coaches.

Losing Stiles would be akin to losing former Reds chief Phil Mooney - who has turned down the Reds' approach to be attack coach in 2018 - and countless others.