Australia Rugby chief backs McKenzie ahead of All Blacks clash

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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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Fiji win Sevens opener in thrilling final against Samoa

Barny 12/10/2014
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Victorious: Fiji celebrate their win.

The opening round of the 2014/15 Sevens World Series came to the Gold Coast of Australia.

This season also doubles as a qualifying for the Olympic Games in Rio 2016, with the top four teams guaranteed a spot.

The final, was left to the South Islanders big boys – Fiji and Samoa.

The Fijians raced into a 26-0 lead prior to half time. 


Yet a when Tila Mealoi's try was converted the Samoans trailed Fiji by two points.








But Fiji were not to be denied and Jasa Veremalua crossed over, as they ran out 31-24 winners. And a relieved Fijian side they looked.


The tournament moves on to Dubai in early December.



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Sport360° view: Australian rugby may not survive McKenzie’s scandal

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Centre of attention: Beale (l) and McKenzie are both implemented in 'text-gate'.

Ewen McKenzie, once believed to be the man who could save Australian rugby union, now stands on the verge of catalysing its ultimate demise.

Just over a year into his role as head coach, McKenzie has been forced into a staunch defence not only of his reign but also his integrity.

Whether the Wallabies coach and Di Patston, the business manager caught in the centre of the current storm, are romantically involved is largely irrelevant, but her role within the camp does appear to have caused friction.

It was first called into question when she took part in a disciplinary process in Dublin last November despite not being on the European tour in person.

That particular incident saw six players suspended and a further nine sanctioned, and seems to have sewn the seeds of discontent.

It had been hoped that McKenzie could harness the wayward but undoubted talents Australia possess, but with Kurtley Beale it looks as though that mission has failed.

His close relationship with Patston means it is difficult to believe the coach’s claims that he was unaware about the existence of the text messages in question until this week.

If he had known, it would suggest that their sudden appearance in the public domain is a step designed to lever Beale out of the international set-up once and for all.

The utility back is no stranger to controversy and if he is guilty of these latest misdemeanours then it is only right his Australia career is put on hold.

However, it may induce a knock-on effect that the Australian Rugby Union may not be able to recover from.

Israel Folau, Beale’s good friend, is already a target for Toulon and could decide to bring forward a potential move to France to before the World Cup.

Will Genia, although not currently first choice at scrum-half, and the returning Quade Cooper have also both toyed with moves abroad or to rugby league.

At a time when Australian rugby union is on life support – one report has claimed the ARU could be insolvent by next April – such developments could prove terminal.

Although union still leads the way in terms of participation in Australia, it is the poor relation when it comes to revenue.

As every other major nation heads into the autumn internationals with one eye on the World Cup, the Wallabies and McKenzie know they are fighting for survival.

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