Rod Macqueen Cup
Ireland interview Ewen McKenzie - reports
April 19, 2013
Jake White and Ewen McKenzie are going head to head on more than one front © Getty Images
Ewen McKenzie is reported to have been interviewed for the vacant Ireland coaching position, adding further spice to an already heated preparation for the top-of-the-table Super Rugby derby between Queensland Reds and the Brumbies.
Jake White, meanwhile, declined the Irish Rugby Football Union approach via video conference on Thursday night. New Zealander Joe Schmidt and Australian Les Kiss are also in the running for the job.
"I'm not available," White told Fairfax Media. "I've made it quite clear that I've got a Brumbies contract and I'm here with a job to do. I'm happy here, I'm coaching boys in Australia and I'm enjoying that. "I'm really not in the market for every coaching job that pops up, I'm focusing on the Brumbies and making them better and in turn making Australian rugby better, which is one of my briefs as a Super 15 coach in Australia."
McKenzie's interview capped a fiery day in which the tension between the Brumbies and the Reds reached boiling point ahead of their Super Rugby round 10 derby, both sides taking pot-shots at each other's ill-discipline. White and McKenzie engaged in a niggling tit-for-tat battle of one-upmanship on Thursday, which included disputed penalty statistics and thinly-veiled accusations over ruck illegalities.
McKenzie listed the Brumbies alongside the Chiefs as masters of killing the ball at the ruck in his weekly Fairfax Media column, with White subsequently brandishing a penalties spreadsheet at his team announcement that showed the Reds second to the ACT side as the most penalised team in the competition. White admitted that his players were the worst offenders, but he said the Reds were throwing stones from glass houses. White also joked that he hoped the game didn't become too heated at Suncorp Stadium as Queensland had been penalised for foul play 14 times this season - twice as often as the Brumbies.
"I'd like to believe that referees at this level would see through things and not read too much into what's written in the media," the former Springboks coach said. "Bottom line is he's wrong. The Reds are second - not the Chiefs."
The Reds were quick to take issue with White's spreadsheet as, on average, Queensland (10.75) were actually behind the Chiefs (10.85) and Brumbies (11.63) while, on their own stats, they are No. 6 in conceding penalties (10.4 per game) with the Brumbies (11) second to the Chiefs (11.4). They also claimed the Brumbies gave away two more penalties on average in defence than any other side.
McKenzie sparked the debate in his column by writing about the tightness of games through free-for-all breakdowns where teams struggle to recycle quick possession for attack. "Nothing makes a game better than by having a strong referee at the tackle and ruck area," McKenzie wrote.
McKenzie denied it was an attempt to grab the attention of referee Glenn Jackson but he didn't mind Laurie Fisher's response. "I've been writing for five years now and it's the first time he's complimented me so I'm pleased about that," McKenzie wrote. "It was an informative piece for the general public to understand how the game works."
The desperation of both sides has been evident all week as the victor will hit the competition lead. White began the mind games this week by calling the Reds "king favourites" before labelling McKenzie as a shoo-in to replace under-pressure Robbie Deans if there's a change of Wallabies coach. Brumbies captain Ben Mowen also admitted that his side would look to slow the ball at the breakdown to limit the damage of Reds halves Will Genia and Quade Cooper.
© ESPN Australia / New Zealand with AAP