ARU backs Ewen McKenzie as Wallabies coach
SYDNEY (AP) — The Australian Rugby Union has rejected reports it is preparing to replace Ewen McKenzie as Wallabies coach.
Australian media say talks have taken place between senior ARU officials and McKenzie’s possible successor, New South Wales Waratahs coach Michael Cheika.
“The ARU has not had any conversations with any other coaches regarding the Wallabies coaching position,” ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said in a statement late Monday.
“Ewen is coaching the team (against the All Blacks) this weekend and next Friday he will board the plane with the team for the spring tour (to Britain) and is contracted to Australian Rugby to lead the Wallabies to next year’s Rugby World Cup.”
Australia’s recent Rugby Championship loss to Argentina left McKenzie with a 52 percent win rate as Wallabies coach.
McKenzie has also been increasingly drawn into a disciplinary process involving Wallabies utility back Kurtley Beale who is alleged to have circulated offensive text messages about the team’s business manager Di Patston.
Patston was involved in an argument with Beale during a team flight from South Africa to Argentina earlier this month. She has since resigned and Beale is expected to face a disciplinary hearing next week.
McKenzie was forced at a news conference last week to deny he has been in an intimate relationship with Patston. Team members, including captain Michael Hooper, have since expressed qualified support for McKenzie in the face of media reports the coach has lost the players’ confidence.