Ewen McKenzie running Wallabies 'like a business'
March 28, 2014
Greg Growden brings you the latest rugby rumours%]
Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is spending the opening five months of 2014 as Wallabies chief executive - restructuring operations and reducing costs as he runs Australia's Test team "like a business" to boost the finally embattled code.
McKenzie will take his first training session only on June 2 - five days before the opening Test against France; before then, the analytical, pragmatic mentor is running a fine-tooth comb over all facets of the team to make operations more efficient.
"Everything I can possibly look at from the budget forwards," McKenzie said. "It's a big business. The team is a big economic engine so it attracts a fair bit of revenue and fair bit of cost to manage. I'm across everything so I run it like a business."
The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will announce the changes to the Wallabies' organisations, operations and Test preparations in the coming weeks, with ESPNscrum correspondent Greg Growden reporting in Ruck'n Maul that the union will cull the position of team manager. Growden reports that McKenzie and "a union sidekick" to take over the responsibilities from Rob Egerton . New training venues - including a base at the Gold Coast's Sanctuary Cove before the opening June 7 Test - and travel plans are among the other changes flagged.
McKenzie declared after the record 38-12 loss to South Africa in Brisbane last September that he would leave no stone unturned in making the improvements required to put the Wallabies back at the top of the game. The demotion of Queensland Reds favourites Will Genia and James Horwill was only the start of the big calls, which continued on the European tour when he suspended six players for late-night boozing.
The restructuring has also helped bankroll the new National Rugby Championship, which needs to be financially sustainable to survive as a much-needed third-tier competition.
"We have to be realistic and responsible," McKenzie said. "There's other things going on in the game we have to do." ARU chief executive officer Bill Pulver praised the Wallabies coach in late 2013 for proactively reducing costs.
With 14 Tests, plus a Barbarians match at the start of the end-of-year European tour, McKenzie is pleased with the competition in Super Rugby for Wallabies spots, and he expects a tough time selecting a squad in May. But his planning - set out all the way to the 2015 Rugby World Cup in England - doesn't extend to a proposed hybrid game against the Great Britain rugby league team in December in London.