McKenzie gets further backing to stay on



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Ewen McKenzie has received support from an unexpected quarter with rugby league legend Laurie Daley backing the campaign to retain him as Waratahs coach.

The former Australia player put cross-code rivalry aside to speak out in support of McKenzie after watching the saga of the Waratahs’ coaching appointment unfold.

“I can’t believe they didn’t offer him the coaching job in the first place,” Daley said in the Daily Telegraph.

“He is a very well-credentialled coach and if he is lost overseas that would be shattering for Australian rugby, because he is clearly one of the best coaches in the game.”

The former Kangaroo, Origin star and premiership-winning five-eighth said he had been impressed by the way McKenzie had the Waratahs playing, as well as his off-field demeanour.

“He has handled what has clearly been a difficult situation very well,” Daley said.

McKenzie has never allowed the dramas to interfere with the preparation of the team. But at training this week he alluded to what he has had to deal with.

“It hasn’t been the easiest of seasons away from the field, but the on-field stuff has been terrific,” McKenzie said.

“I’ve really enjoyed the association with the team – it’s been great.”

McKenzie agreed to step down when his contract expired at the end of the season after a meeting with NSW Rugby CEO Jim L’Estrange at the start of April.

The team were ranked sixth at the time and subsequently shot up the competition ladder to finish second which earned them the right to host Saturday’s sudden-death semi-final against the Sharks at the SFS.

The NSW board has delayed naming McKenzie’s replacement as they did not want the team to be distracted but McKenzie said that he would consider taking on the job again next year if approached.

“I am obviously going to do something in the future so I have to look at my opportunities. If there is an opportunity I am happy to talk about it,” McKenzie said.

“That is about as much as I will say about that.”

The candidates on the shortlist to take the position are Chris Hickey, Les Kiss, Scott Johnson and Joe Barakat.

No announcement on the coach will be made until the NSW board meeting on Monday at the earliest.

Several board members are strongly opposed to any move to reappoint McKenzie.

“Hopefully something can be worked out because I am sure he would be in demand all over the place,” Daley said.

ARU boss John O’Neill praised the efforts of McKenzie’s Waratahs in making the semis.

“They finished second in one of the toughest competitions in world rugby and all the focus deserves to be on the team,” he said.

“They’ve made it to a home semi-final against the Sharks this Saturday night and I want to encourage everyone to come out and support them.

“They could well make the final. (I’ve got) every confidence they will.

“The coaching decisions can wait until the end of the season.”



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