Super Rugby - Melbourne Rebels
Hill: Durban incident a 'major factor' in sacking
July 9, 2013
The Rebels' Damien Hill looks on after his side had defeated the Force, Western Force v Melbourne Rebels, Super Rugby, nib Stadium, Perth, April 6, 2013
Former Rebels coach Damien Hill is proud of their achievements in developing young talent © Getty Images

Sacked Melbourne Rebels coach Damien Hill says the off-field behaviour of Wallabies star Kurtley Beale has played a key role in the club's decision to appoint a new coach.

Hill will guide the 12th-placed Rebels for one last time in their season-ending home game against the 15th-placed Highlanders on Friday night at AAMI Park. The outgoing mentor says he's not angry, but disappointed.

The Rebels on Monday appointed Wallabies coaching co-ordinator Tony McGahan as head coach for 2014, having announced on the previous day they had axed James O'Connor but would pursue the retention of his Wallabies team-mate Beale.

Hill said his proudest moment as Rebels coach was the way the players galvanised after Beale's alcohol-fuelled clash with team-mates in Durban in March.

"The performances we put on the paddock over that six-week or seven-week period would have us sitting fifth on the ladder now," Hill told a media conference on Tuesday. "I regret that South African incident occurring but it really did tighten the group up and through that sort of adversity you get a better group of people and that's what happened."

Hill said Australian rugby couldn't afford to lose a quality player like Beale.

Rebels coach Damien Hill responds to his sacking

"But first and foremost is going to be his ability to get himself on track when he's not training or playing," Hill said. "It (the Durban incident) probably was a major factor (in my sacking). The behaviours of the playing group on and off the field, someone has to be held accountable and in sport, that's the head coach."

Hill believes the Rebels, despite a 4-11 win-loss record, are really going places and that he's proud of their achievements in developing young talent.

"We had an excellent back half of the season and I can really see promising things happening for next year as well, so not to be a part of it is disappointing," he said.

Hill said he couldn't confirm if McGahan was involved in the move to cut O'Connor loose. "But if the decision (for McGahan) to come on board had already been made, then it would be fair to him to have an input into the players," Hill said.

Hill said he had met McGahan on two or three occasions.

"He's a nice guy and his defensive record with (Irish club) Munster was a strength," Hill said. "At some stage, we'll have a chat. There's no anger or anything in that regard. He's going to inherit a great young team and it's up to him to mould it into something better."


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