Sydney - Super Rugby-winning coach Michael Cheika has agreed to take charge of
the Wallabies after the shock resignation of Ewen McKenzie and is
negotiating the details, a report said on Monday.
McKenzie dropped his bombshell shortly after New Zealand narrowly
beat Australia 29-28 in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on
Saturday, throwing their upcoming European tour into chaos.
The Australian newspaper, citing an "informed source", said online
that Cheika met Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver on Sunday and
again Monday and "had agreed to take the Wallabies job".
The ARU had no immediate comment but in a series of tweets on their
official Twitter feed the Wallabies said discussions were ongoing.
"The #ARU is still in the process of investigating options to replace
Ewen McKenzie, following his resignation last Saturday," it said.
"At this stage, no prospective coaches have been confirmed in the
role. We hope to have a solution in place and announced before the team
leaves for the Spring Tour on Friday."
Pulver said on Sunday he had a list of options in mind but had yet to
speak to any of the potential candidates despite urgency surrounding a
decision, with the squad due to leave for Europe this week.
As well as Cheika, whose track record includes winning the Heineken
Cup with Irish side Leinster and the NSW Waratahs' maiden Super title
earlier this year, Springbok World Cup-winning mentor Jake White has
also been linked to the job.
Pulver said that if it proved impossible to appoint a new coach in
time for the five-match tour in Europe against the Barbarians, Wales,
France, Ireland and England, then an interim coach would be considered.
Wallabies great Stephen Larkham has been touted in local media as a
potential interim choice should it prove too hard to get someone on
board full-time at such short notice.
"At this point, I don't even know who can get on a plane on Friday.
So next step for the rest of this day is trying to understand where we
sit in terms of the options we've got and trying to make some progress,"
Pulver said on Sunday.
McKenzie's unexpected exit added to the turmoil engulfing Australian rugby in the fallout over the Kurtley Beale text scandal.
Beale has been suspended following an in-flight argument with team
business manager Di Patston and claims that he sent offensive text
messages about her. Patston, who was appointed by McKenzie, has since
Pulver blamed sections of the media for assassinating McKenzie's
character in the extraordinary fallout from the Beale-Patston scandal,
but Wallabies great Nick Farr-Jones said Monday he must also accept some
responsibility for the mess.
"If Bill had've had it all over again, they would've done ... the
Beale incident differently. I think they would've settled it offshore,
kept it out of the headlines," he said on Channel Nine television.
"The last thing we in rugby - with football going so well, with
rugby league going so well - the last thing we want on the headlines is
intrigue and basically being pulled through the gutters."