Kearney to step down as Ireland team manager

Michael Kearney is to step down from his role as Ireland team manager following this year's November international series, with Paul Dean confirmed as his successor.

Kearney took the job in January 2012, replacing Paul McNaughton, and worked alongside head coach Joe Schmidt during a period that saw the team win back-to-back Six Nations titles in 2014 and 2015.

"It has been a great privilege to work with the national team for the past five years," said Kearney. "During that time I have made many friendships and enjoyed a lot of special moments.

"I've witnessed at first hand the incredible work ethic of players and management and the desire to reach world-class standards in everything they do. 

"The time was right for me to step down and allow the next team manager time to integrate into the group ahead of the next World Cup  [in 2019]."

Schmidt added: "While we're disappointed that he will be finishing post the Guinness Series this November, we have certainly profited from his friendship and the many hours he has committed to fulfilling his role so effectively."

Dean won 32 caps for Ireland between 1981 and 1989, winning the Triple Crown in 1982 and 1985.

"It is a great honour to take up this position with the national team," he commented. "I am joining a successful and highly motivated group and I look forward to supporting them to achieve further success at the highest level of the game."

Ireland face New Zealand in Chicago on November 5, before returning to Dublin for clashes with Canada, Australia and a second Test against the All Blacks.