Canberra - Australian Vodacom Super Rugby side the Brumbies have sacked their coach Andy Friend just two matches into the southern hemisphere provincial championship's season and replaced him with one of his assistants, the team said on Tuesday.
The Brumbies, who suffered a shock one-point loss to newcomers the Rebels at the weekend, would be coached by former rugby league player and coach Tony Rea, who had been in charge of defence and skills.
The move follows reports of dissension between Friend, his players and staff in recent days.
Brumbies CEO Andrew Fagan denied speculation that "player power" had ended Friend's tenure after local media suggested the coach was unpopular with his team.
"It was my decision," Fagan told local reporters. "A change was required... I reviewed the situation, I took soundings from a wide range of people and it became very clear to me that a change was required and it was required immediately.
"It has been taken in the best interests of our members, our supporters for the team and organisation, with a view of giving us the best chance of success in 2011."
Friend, a former coach at London-based club Harlequins, had held a team meeting on Monday in a bid to clear the air and came out of it saying players and staff had voiced "no issues" with his coaching.
Fagan said Friend had been shifted to a more overseeing role this season while his assistants had taken on more hands-on coaching, but the move had backfired.
"We did put in remedial steps a couple of weeks ago in trying to address some of the issues we were facing but I felt these steps did not produce the results we desire and the decision was taken overnight to make an immediate change," he said.
The Brumbies failed to make the post-season semi-finals in two seasons under 41-year-old Friend, despite boasting a playing list studded with Wallabies, and were widely considered to have underachieved.
Rea joined Friend's staff in 2008 after six years as coach and director of rugby league club London Broncos, who were renamed Harlequins RL in 2005.