Tuesday’s rugby news has the ARU and players split over the Beale controversy, some call-ups for the Wallabies and Jake White heading to Tonga.
ARU backing McKenzie
Now that the offending Kurtley Beale text messages have finally come to light, it would seem that any public support for the Waratahs centre will be tested. ARU boss Bill Pulver has quickly come out in support of Test coach Ewen McKenzie, saying that Link’s job was not in jeopardy prior to the World Cup.
“Ewen is coaching the team this weekend and next Friday he will board the plane with the team for the spring (European) tour, and is contracted to Australian Rugby to lead the Wallabies to next year’s Rugby World Cup,” Pulver said. The ARU has also defended Patston over allegations of fraudulent work history and credentials, although more question marks have been raised by the media in that regard.
AAC and players still supportive
Despite the damaging text messages, senior Wallaby players are continuing to support Beale, with vice-captain Adan Ashley-Cooper now saying that he hopes that Beale is retained by the ARU. “I’m feeling for Kurtley,” AAC said. “I’m feeling for a mate. I’m feeling for a team-mate and I share those feelings on behalf of the rest of the team.”
AAC added that the Wallaby players and staff had held a positive team meeting in Brisbane on Sunday night which adddressed any discordance within the team. New Zealand commentators have been critical of the Wallabies’ handling of the recent off-field issues, especially when compared to how the All Blacks dealt with Aaron Cruden.
New additions to Wallabies
Waratahs second-rower Will Skelton and Brumbies centre Christian Leali’ifano will be injected into the starting line-up for Saturday’s match against the All-Blacks in Brisbane. Skelton was dropped three weeks ago to improve his conditioning but will now make his second Test start alongside former captain James Horwill, who appears to have been preferred over Rob Simmons.
Meanwhile, Leali’ifano will likely step into the void at centre left by a concussion to Matt Toomua and the exclusion of Beale. Leali’ifano will be hoping to stake his claim on the 12 jersey, benefitting from the effective partnership established with 13 Tevita Kuridrani.
Tonga add Jake White
Former Brumbies coach Jake White has made another change, joining Tonga for their end-of-year tour to Asia and Europe as a technical advisor. White has not yet confirmed whether he will continue with Tonga at next year’s World Cup in England but the team’s high performance manager Peter Harding said discussions have been positive.
“Through some mutual acquaintances we got in touch with Jake and he was extremely keen to come on board,” Harding said. White did leave the Sharks recently, and the Brumbies before that in 2013, to pursue international coaching opportunities after leading the Springboks to World Cup success in 2007.