After Ewen Mckenzie's resignation after the Wallabies last minute loss to the All Blacks on Saturday, speculation has surfaced as to the reasons behind his departure, the declension of the ARU and the right replacement for Mckenzie.
Mckenzie, it was revealed, had already handed in his letter of resignation to ARU chief executive, Bill Pulver, before the Bledisloe Cup encounter with All Blacks, confirming his intention to leave, regardless of the result.
The ex-Wallabies boss has been subject to intense scrutiny in recent weeks for his dealing with the Kurtley Beale/Di Patston saga, claiming he new nothing of their interaction. Mckenzie's actions have put the ARU in a mess, losing him the backing of his staff and his players, if reports are to be believed.
"The easiest thing for me is to exit stage left," he is quoted by The Guardian. “It’s been a disappointing time for many reasons. I’m not going to go into the reasons. You guys can work it out. I’ve written to the board I’ve been unhappy with a bunch of things.”
The former Reds coach was pictured a forlorn figure walking through the Suncorp Stadium corridors - where he enjoyed the best moment of his coaching career as his Reds side won the Super Rugby title in a thrilling match against the Crusaders in 2011 - prompting former Wallabies captain and ARU board member John Eales to comment: "the image of him walking down the corridor on his own is one of the saddest sights I’ve seen in sport."
The early replacement names on everyone's lips are Brumbies' boss Jake White and Super Rugby title holder Michael Cheika of the Waratahs.
The issue with the Tahs coach is his past problems with the ARU, making White the sensible immediate replacement with the squad travelling to the UK as soon as friday.
Cheika is one of the most sought after coaches in the game, holding titles in both hemisphere's, so will not be swayed by money or an enhanced reputation. He will not take over the reigns unless he sees some potential in the squad that he can bring out in time for next year's World Cup.
The quality of the squad has never been in question, but the desire of the team, as influenced by the coaching staff, has come under a bit of scrutiny. However, the teams desire cannot be faulted in their last outing against the All Blacks, where some poor decision making by replacement scrum half Nick White cost the Wallabies the game.
Will Cheika see enough potential in the Wallabies squad to take on the role? Or is the ARU in too much trouble for the former Wallaby to consider the job?
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