Former Wallaby Paul McLean takes Rugby Australia chair from Cameron Clyne

Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne speaks during a press conference in Sydney, December 12, 2017 Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Wallabies great Paul McLean is confident a suitable candidate will emerge to chair the Rugby Australia board despite him unexpectedly taking on the role.

Outgoing chairman Cameron Clyne was due to step down at the annual general meeting on March 30, bringing to an end a tumultuous time in the role which oversaw the Super Rugby axing of Western Force and costly court dispute with Israel Folau.

However Clyne announced on Friday he would stand down immediately, with former Test skipper McLean called on as one of the board's most senior directors, having served for the past eight years following a stint as president from 2005-09.

"The remainder of the board had a discussion and they all looked at me," McLean told AAP.

"It was unexpected but by doing it now he's (Clyne) given the opportunity for a steadier transition for new directors and a new chair."

The move means McLean, 66, will have oversight at a crucial time amid the governing body's broadcast rights negotiations, collective bargaining agreement and 2027 Rugby World Cup bid.

The plan is that one of three incoming board directors will be anointed chair and McLean will fill the position until that person is ready to transition into the role.

"The chair is a high-profile role and whoever is chosen and elected will benefit from having some time to build relationships and gain an understanding of all the major work happening across the rugby landscape before they step into the role," McLean said.

"Ultimately, there are some major pieces of work that are either nearing completion or getting underway, including the negotiations around the media rights, Rugby World Cup bid process, World Rugby positions and a Collective Bargaining Agreement, and we believe this change will provide added stability at a crucial time."

Asked if he would consider taking on the chair role permanently, the former Wallabies captain said it wasn't "his plan at this point in time".

"I'm confident there will be candidates there that fit the bill," he said.

"It doesn't surprise me that there are a lot of people who want to be involved (with the board) as they tend to think things aren't as bad as they're made out to be both on and off the field."

Despite rugby's declining popularity in Australia, McLean sees brighter times ahead, particularly in an Olympic year and with a World Cup bid in the offing.

"We're in a position now where I can see so much depth in our younger brigade of players that will hold us in good stead for the next five years," the 31-Test former Wallaby said.

"That's been displayed by the Brumbies and in the Reds on the weekend and the Australian under 20s so we're creating a pretty solid foundation and that's really important."