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Forward thinking: McKenzie palms off criticism of Wallabies hopes

Date

Phil Lutton

Queensland Reds mentor Ewen McKenzie.

Queensland Reds mentor Ewen McKenzie. Photo: Getty Images

Ewen McKenzie has brushed off suggestions the ARU has blacklisted him for the Wallabies coaching job because his former life as a prop means he knows nothing about running a backline.

A story on ESPN on Tuesday said McKenzie was next to no chance to take over from Robbie Deans, despite his impressive work with the Queensland Reds and widespread support from players and various administrators on both sides of the Tweed.

If you read the quotes, you'll work out the depth of intelligence that came with that comment 

A senior ARU official, reportedly a key player in any future recruitment process, was quoted as saying McKenzie had no chance of getting the top job because of a perceived ignorance of backline play.

"As long as my backside is pointing to the ground, Ewen McKenzie will not coach Australia. You cannot have a front-row forward in charge of the Wallabies because they know nothing about backline play," the ARU source was reported as saying.

McKenzie misses little in preparing for matches and likewise in the media. He saw the story and said it was impossible to keep everybody happy in the cut-throat world of elite rugby.

"Obviously someone doesn't like me, but you find that when you travel around" he said.

"It's a bit like politics – you can't get everyone to like you. All I can do is rely on where I'm up to as a coach."

The suggestion McKenzie couldn't manage a world-class backline is beyond baffling, given the way the Reds have gone about their work since his arrival. Their free-running style was a feature of their 2011 run to the Super Rugby title.

"I don't worry about what I can and can't do from a coaching point of view," he said.

"I've been around long enough.

"If you read the quotes, you'll work out the depth of intelligence that came with that comment."

As it stands, McKenzie remains content in his position as director of coaching at the Reds, where he works with former Force coach Richard Graham in overseeing the rugby program.

Deans remains gainfully employed by the ARU but could potentially endure his most challenging season in charge, with a Lions tour added to the list of international fixtures. Poor results will put immense pressure on the ARU to introduce fresh ideas.

McKenzie said he didn't feel like he was going to pay the price for not playing the political game with powerbrokers in Sydney.

"There's no position to electioneer for. I'm pretty happy doing what I'm doing at the moment. That's about it. You read articles every day. It's a moment in time, someone's comment, it becomes yesterday's news and you talk about something else," he said.

McKenzie did manage to sneak in some rugby talk before the politics came into play, naming the Reds side to take on the Hurricanes on Friday in Brisbane.

Radike Samo returns to the bench after overcoming a knee injury and Aidan Toua replaces Mike Harris (bench) at fullback, with Quade Cooper taking over goal-kicking duties.

58 comments

  • Of course Ewan should be the next Wallabies' coach. In fact, he should probably be in the job now!

    Commenter
    scott
    Date and time
    February 26, 2013, 6:53PM
    • Or a couple years ago

      Commenter
      MY
      Date and time
      February 26, 2013, 9:53PM
  • Ahhhhh!!! Run away, it's got union in it's name!

    Commenter
    JoBlo
    Location
    Here
    Date and time
    February 26, 2013, 7:17PM
    • Interesting, Eddie Jones got the job from a number 2 jersey, and he was ordinary. I am no fan of McKenzie's but of coaches coaching at an elite level at the moment or in Australia, he is probably the best of the bunch, excepting maybe Jake White. I never understand why real top notch coaches like Todd Louden, and others cannot seem to get a gig at the top echelon. Maybe it is because they refuse to be yes men to the suits that run this deteriroating (in Australia) game

      Commenter
      Phantom
      Location
      Toowoomba
      Date and time
      February 26, 2013, 7:47PM
      • Louden was offered the Waratahs top job in 2008, when he was their attack coach. He walked away from the province after it was revealed that the board members that had approached him had done so behind McKenzie's back, wanting to lock him in before knifing Link. He's coaching an amateur club in the Hunter these days, after his family moved to Port Stephens. You'd have to ask him, if ever you have the chance, but I don't think he's too fussed over a return to the professional game right now.

        Commenter
        Justin
        Location
        The Armchair
        Date and time
        February 26, 2013, 9:43PM
    • Wow. Either this comment is a complete fabrication, or it is just another cringe-worthy illustration of the idiocy, cronyism and backroom politics that runs the game in Australia (unfortunately more likely the latter).

      Contrary to this water-tight logic, a prop coaching the Wallabies might actually be the best thing for a team that has spent the past decade, suffering a slow and painful death of scrum resets, tightheads, penalties and penalty tries.

      Commenter
      GT
      Location
      Shanghai
      Date and time
      February 26, 2013, 9:25PM
      • look at the ESPN article and who wrote it, then decide whether you would give any weight to the story given the authors poor history

        Commenter
        tubby
        Date and time
        February 27, 2013, 11:01AM
      • could not agree with you more

        Commenter
        dave
        Location
        newcastle
        Date and time
        February 27, 2013, 2:33PM
      • Aha, good spot Tubby. Poor due diligence on my part. Should have seen Growden written all over this report. Does provide a bit of perspective - but sadly I still wouldn't doubt that those words came from the mouth of a NSW-based ARU official.

        Commenter
        GT
        Location
        Shanghai
        Date and time
        February 27, 2013, 2:57PM
    • McKenzie looks like a great guy and has done a fantastic job with the Reds.

      I'd love to see him coach the Wallabies.

      Commenter
      barracuda
      Date and time
      February 26, 2013, 9:37PM

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