McKenzie's RWC dream over

2014-10-19 09:18
Ewen McKenzie (AFP)

Brisbane - Ewen McKenzie has painstakingly put together an impeccable career as a player and coach only to see his 2015 World Cup dreams unravel in a matter of days.

The 1991 World Cup-winning front-rower served apprenticeships under two Wallabies coaches and impressed in Super rugby, winning the 2011 title with Queensland Reds.

He was appointed as Wallabies coach last year, and managed 11 wins from 22 Tests as he sought to build a team which could win the next World Cup.

But his sudden resignation on Saturday, which follows days of speculation over a player revolt and his private life, leaves his legacy in tatters.

There were no signs of the turmoil to come even earlier this month, when news broke of an in-flight bust-up between team business manager Di Patston and back Kurtley Beale.

Beale, whose chequered past includes rehabilitation for alcohol abuse, was suspended and Patston left early from the trip to Argentina, where Australia lost 21-17.

The accusations against Beale deepened on the team's return, when he was accused of sending "deeply offensive" text messages relating to a staff member.

But the saga took an unforeseen twist last week when a stony-faced McKenzie was forced to deny having an intimate relationship with Patston.

Patston promptly quit, citing stress, while senior players voiced their support for Beale and hoped he would not be sacked.

With McKenzie's position difficult, it was not altogether surprising that he chose to resign, a decision that was announced immediately after the 28-29 loss to New Zealand.

"I've been unhappy with a bunch of things and the easiest thing for me is to exit stage left," he told media.

"I'll leave you guys to speculate or ponder. I'll write a chapter in my book."

McKenzie, 49, was hired in July last year after the Australian Rugby Union lost faith in New Zealander Robbie Deans, the first non-Australian to coach the Wallabies.

He was capped by the Wallabies 51 times, making his debut in 1990 and retiring in 1997 following Bledisloe Cup wins in 1992 and 1994, as well as the 1991 World Cup.

As a coach, McKenzie took up a support role with his former club the ACT Brumbies, before becoming Wallabies assistant coach under Rod Macqueen and then Eddie Jones.

He was appointed New South Wales Waratahs head coach in 2003, a position he held for five years before being sacked in 2008, despite reaching the 2005 final and 2006 semi-finals.

Although he was fired mid-season, his Waratahs team also made the 2008 final, losing to the Canterbury Crusaders.

McKenzie had one season with Stade Francais before returning to Australia in 2010 to take over the struggling Queensland Reds.

In his first year he guided the Reds to fifth place before taking them to the 2011 Super 14 title in some style with a win in the final over the Canterbury Crusaders.

The Reds made the semi-finals again in 2012 before McKenzie moved on from head coach to become director of rugby, a move widely seen as freeing him up to take on the Australian job.

After the Wallabies' 2013 series loss to the British and Irish Lions, Deans was sacked and McKenzie was appointed over South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White, who is mooted as a possible replacement.

Under McKenzie, the Wallabies lost five matches against New Zealand and drew one, while they won one and lost three against the Springboks.

Read more on:    wallabies  |  ewen mckenzie  |  rugby

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