SYDNEY (AFP) – Robbie Deans quit Tuesday as coach of the Wallabies following their series loss to the British and Irish Lions with Ewen McKenzie widely expected to be announced as his replacement.
New Zealand-born Deans, who broke new ground by becoming the first non-Australian to take charge of the national side when appointed five years ago, lasted for a record 74 Tests.
The Australian Rugby Union said his successor, seen as Queensland Reds director of coaching McKenzie, an Australian, would be announced later in the day.
"I wish to take this opportunity to thank everyone involved in Australian rugby for their support through the duration of my tenure," said Deans, who was contracted until the end of the year.
"It has been a rewarding five years and I am proud of all that we have achieved.
"Most especially I would like to thank the players for their efforts and wish them all the best going forward."
Deans, a former All Black and the most successful Super Rugby coach in history, has had a chequered time with the Wallabies with a 58 percent success rate -- winning 43 Tests, losing 29 and drawing two.
The team's 41-16 thrashing by the Lions in Sydney on Saturday in what was deemed their most important match since the 2003 World Cup final means he leaves without a defining moment in charge.
His high point remains the 2011 Tri Nations triumph in the weeks before the World Cup in New Zealand.
But he is better remembered for overseeing shattering defeats to Scotland (twice), Samoa at home, a 53-8 rout by South Africa in Johannesburg and an ill-fated World Cup campaign in New Zealand two years ago, when the Wallabies never recovered from a 15-6 mugging by Ireland in the group stage.
Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver said Deans advised him of his decision late Monday, although it has been reported that he was given an ultimatum to quit or be sacked as the team seek to rebuild ahead of the Rugby Championship in August.
Pulver said Deans had made a significant contribution to Australian rugby over a long period of time.
"Robbie came into the job in 2008, improved our away record almost immediately, delivered a Tri Nations title in 2011, and has been a significant part of a Lions Tour that overshadows any other rugby event in Australia since the 2003 Rugby World Cup," he said.
"We wish him all the best in his future endeavours and to build further on what is one of world rugby's most impressive coaching resumes.
"As a consequence of a coaching review process that has been ongoing through 2013, we are also in a position to make a further announcement on the coaching position -- and name Robbie's replacement -- later today."
Australia's next Test is against the world champion All Blacks in Sydney on August 17 -- their opening match of the Rugby Championship, which includes South Africa and Argentina.
McKenzie is expected to be in charge, having reportedly beaten off competition from the ACT Brumbies' South African coach Jake White to take over the top job and lead the team to the 2015 World Cup.
McKenzie, a prop and Wallaby during his playing days, announced in March that he would quit the Reds at the end of the Super Rugby season, saying he was ready to move to "the next level".
After joining in 2009, he guided the franchise to a first Super 15 championship in 2011 in addition to back-to-back Australian conference titles.
Prior to the Reds, he guided the NSW Waratahs to two Super Rugby finals in 2005 and 2008 before moving to France where he coached Stade Francais.