Australia Rugby chief backs McKenzie ahead of All Blacks clash

Sport360 staff 15:53 13/10/2014
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Under pressure: Ewen McKenzie.

Australia rugby boss Bill Pulver Monday gave his support to besieged Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie before this weekend's Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.

Pulver was responding to reports that a coaching change may be imminent in the turmoil around the Kurtley Beale texting scandal.

"I can confirm the ARU (Australian Rugby Union) has not had any conversations with any other coaches regarding the Wallabies coaching position," Pulver said. "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."

McKenzie has been drawn into the tumult. Last week he rejected rumours about his relationship with business manager Di Patston, who has resigned her post 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 Patston.

Reports said McKenzie retained the support of his Wallabies squad following a clear-the-air team meeting to address fallout from the Beale texting scandal.

Team vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper said he wanted the coach to keep his post heading into their 2015 World Cup campaign. The senior player of the side, preparing for his 100th Test on Saturday against the All Blacks, denied the Wallabies were a divided team. 

"It's important there's not too many changes made and we get back to winning," Ashley-Cooper said.

"(McKenzie) basically opened up the group and asked us what we can do better, was there any ideas the players had?

"There was some good points raised in terms of detail and the playing group being more accurate and how we can go about training.

"Just basically lifting an extra 10-20 percent, which is what's required to beat the best in the world."

Beale faces a code of conduct hearing next week but his future in Australian rugby appears in huge doubt following publication on Monday of the text messages between himself and Patston.

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