Wallabies boss McKenzie forced to deny affair claims

Sport360 staff 06:13 11/10/2014
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Wallabies woe: Rumours have emerged relating to McKenzie's private life.

Australia coach Ewen McKenzie denied having an affair with a staff member as a row over allegedly offensive texts sent by Kurtley Beale took an unexpected twist.

A stony-faced McKenzie rejected rumours about his relationship with business manager Di Patston, who is on stress leave following a mid-flight argument with Beale during last week’s trip to Argentina.

Beale was suspended from the Argentina game over the argument, and was later barred from selection indefinitely after the emergence of “deeply offensive text messages” concerning a member of staff.

“I’ve got a professional relation­ship with her. And I refute that,” McKenzie told reporters, when asked if he had an “intimate” rela­tionship with Patston.

“There are people out there and that there’s some sort of campaign to impugn, that’s (not) the situa­tion,” said McKenzie, who is mar­ried with children.

“I’ve got a professional relation­ship with her and I refute that.”

Beale is under investigation by the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) over both the argument and the text messages, and is expected to face a hearing early next week.

Australian media reports said the situation had become divisive in the Wallabies camp, which is also reeling from last week’s 21-17 defeat – Argentina’s first win in the Rugby Championship.

But McKenzie said: “I don’t think I have a divided camp. I know there’s been lots of talk in the news­papers and everyone’s got an opin­ion, but I know the playing group.”

He defended Patston’s appoint­ment, which was made during his tenure, and said he didn’t believe it had caused “angst” in the team.

“She came in as the business manager and she came in with a specific role to take the team to a new level,” he told a press confer­ence in Sydney.

“She’s got extraordinary skills and she had made a massive differ­ence to the business side of it and that’s what she’s done.”

McKenzie was also frustrated that the Wallabies were being side­tracked ahead of their final Bledis­loe Cup Test with New Zealand in Brisbane next week.

“I am annoyed because in the end we are trying to run a football pro­gramme and it’s got sidetracked and it’s been sidetracked in many differ­ent ways,” he said.

“It’s frustrating but there is a challenge to try and put that back on track.

“I can’t stop people speculating. It’s me this week, it will be someone else next week, that’s the way it is. I accept that it’s the life in the public domain but you just get on with it.”

Beale has been suspended indefi­nitely while the ARU investigation plays out.

The 47-Test back was last year forced to undergo counselling and rehabilitation for his struggles with alcohol.

McKenzie said he only found out about the text messages, which reportedly contain lewd pictures and date back to June, last week.

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