Sydney - Jake
White has offered to replace under-siege Michael Cheika as Wallabies
coach and was due to have a phone hook-up with Rugby Australia on Thursday,
but it was cancelled after news of the call was leaked.
The South African, who steered the Springboks to the 2007 Rugby World Cup
title, approached the governing body after Australia won just four of
their 13 Tests this year.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle has repeatedly said
Cheika continues to have her backing to take the team to the World Cup
in Japan next year, which is when his contract runs out.
But mounting pressure came to a head after their 37-18 defeat by
England last weekend, with calls intensifying for a change of guard. It
followed a tryless loss to Wales and an uninspiring win over Italy.
The phone call was to assess what White - a former Brumbies
coach - had to offer as a possible alternative, but it was hastily
called off after being leaked to the media.
"Jake White approached Rugby Australia and asked to have a
conversion," a RA spokesperson told AFP.
"Rugby Australia has decided not
to proceed with the call."
White has previously expressed a desire to coach Australia after
being overlooked for the job in favour of Ewen McKenzie in 2013.
The Rugby Australia board is due to meet on December 10 for a regular
end-of-season review where the future of Cheika, who is currently in
Europe, and his coaching team are set to be discussed.
Castle said she understood there was intense interest after "a challenging year".
"We acknowledge and understand the frustrations of Wallabies fans
over recent results and we are completing a thorough review ahead of an
important year for the team which culminates with the Rugby World Cup in
Japan," she said in a statement, without mentioning White.
"The outcomes of the full review will be presented at the December
meeting of the Rugby Australia board with Wallabies head coach Michael
Cheika in attendance."
Several former Wallabies have called for change in the Test set-up
after their worst year since 1995, including fullback Matt Burke who
said the team was no longer well-regarded by their rivals.
"I reckon that respect factor's gone. We're down at (sixth) in the world, we started at No 3 at the start of the year," he said.