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Tahs dare to dream: SBW tops triple-header hit list

Date

Greg Growden

EXCLUSIVE

Waratahs wish list ... Sonny Bill Williams and Phil Blake.

Waratahs wish list ... Sonny Bill Williams and Phil Blake.

A SENIOR NSW official is involved in an audacious plan to create a 2013 Waratahs dream team revolving around Ewen McKenzie, Phil Blake and Sonny Bill Williams.

The Sun-Herald has been told a high-profile Waratahs official has, in conjunction with several rugby powerbrokers and at least two player managers, been working on bringing back McKenzie as head coach, installing Blake as his assistant and signing dual international Williams as their marquee player.

This dramatic development is understood to be a major reason why there has been a delay in the announcement of the Waratahs coach to replace Michael Foley.

Those involved in trying to revive the ailing franchise, after a dreadful season where the Tahs slumped to 11th spot, realise they need big names to bring back the crowds. And they know the return of McKenzie, who took the Queensland Reds to a Super Rugby title last year after being dumped by NSW in 2008, will excite local supporters - especially as many firmly believe he has been the best Waratahs coach of the professional era. Also the sight of Williams in the Waratahs colours would lead to sell-out home games.

Williams, who starred in the centres for the All Blacks in their recent victories over the Wallabies, is expected to appear for the Sydney Roosters in the NRL next year on a handshake deal, but sources say there ''is a hiccup''. If the Tahs landed Williams, he would be listed as an import, meaning the Tahs would punt out-of-favour South African halfback Sarel Pretorius.

The push for former NRL player Blake to move to the Waratahs is also strong, after filling the role of caretaker coach at Western Force following Richard Graham's departure to the Reds. Blake was a Wallabies assistant coach for several years.

The Waratahs official involved in this plan has deliberately kept it secret from several members of the coaching selection panel. All that is being said is there are ''two more coaching interviews to go''.

And it appears McKenzie is in demand on several fronts at the Waratahs. Sources confirmed there was recently a concerted push from other influential NSW rugby figures for McKenzie to be the Waratahs' next chief executive officer, taking over from Jason Allen. But Waratahs supporters should not yet start celebrating the possibility of McKenzie and Williams being at Moore Park in 2013. There are many hurdles.

For Williams to be lured to NSW, it would require massive third-party deals, and this would put the Waratahs in conflict with the ARU, which frowns on such arrangements. Also the Waratahs could not ask the ARU for a contractual top-up, because Williams, by representing the All Blacks, is not eligible to play for the Wallabies.

What's more, McKenzie is firmly entrenched at the Reds, where he has been very happy with their administrative structure. He is also probably waiting to see how Robbie Deans fares during the Rugby Championship, because if the Test team continues to falter, there is a strong possibility that McKenzie will be the next Wallabies coach.

The delay in the Waratahs head coach announcement has caused major dramas at head office. Numerous members of this season's Waratahs staff are concerned about their future. They are unimpressed in not getting any answers from the hierarchy. Several are unhappy to be told by a Waratahs administrator: ''You blokes are lucky to still have a job, so leave me to do mine.''

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