McKenzie’s replacement on hold



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The new Waratahs coach will not be decided until after the end of the Super 14 campaign with NSW Rugby administrators determined to keep the focus on events on the field.

NSWRU chief executive Jim L’Estrange had frequently suggested a decision on Ewen McKenzie’s successor could be made at a scheduled board meeting next Monday.

However, NSWRU chairman Arvid Petersen said the meeting had been deferred to May 26 because of the travel plans of a number of board members.

Petersen said that the Union’s number one goal was to get the team into the finals and that they did not want the speculation over McKenzie’s replacement distracting the team.

“We are not going to be rushed into this decision, we firmly believe we’ve got the right process in place,” Petersen said in the Sydney Morning Herald.

“We’re very confident with the candidates we are talking with and we believe once the season ends we will be in a better position to finalise and firm that up.”

He added that ideally a decision on the new coach would be made in the next three to four weeks.

Petersen gave nothing away about the remaining contenders and said the panel assessing them had progressed to second and third rounds of interviews.

He said that it had to be determined whether former Wallabies attack coach Scott Johnson was available for the job given his agreement to coach the United States national team.

“I think it would be no secret that he is somebody that is very much in the final group,” Petersen said.

He said there was a possibility one or more of the unsuccessful candidates could be considered for assistant coaching positions and felt the interview process had also unearthed some potential Super coaches.

Petersen was adamant the NSWRU would not be embarrassed if the Waratahs were to win the Super title under McKenzie. The Brumbies went through a similar situation when Nucifora was sacked.

He said while it was a difficult decision, he believed the timing of the announcement had been right.

The NSWRU chairman believed that none of the key Waratahs who’d yet to re-sign, including forwards Rocky Elsom, Adam Freier and Dan Vickerman, were stalling on a decision pending the appointment of the new coach.

Petersen revealed he hadn’t given up hope of retaining Vickerman despite the Test lock’s announcement earlier this year that he intended not to re-sign with NSW.

“We never give up on that, he hasn’t signed with anybody else and we’re hopeful he might reconsider,” Petersen said.

Petersen said NSW was in the process of setting up working parties to investigate the possibility of more private investment in the franchise.

An advocate of more independence in governance of the game, Petersen said it would be foolish not to look at the AFL model, but doubted Super 14 teams would ever be completely privately owned.

Petersen defended his “much maligned” board against what he considered unfair suggestions of undue meddling in the Waratahs affairs.

“There are no board members standing on the sidelines influencing coaches decisions and influencing player selection decisions, I think any suggestion otherwise portrays our board members in an unfair light,” Petersen said.



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