Wallabies rocked by Email leak
Thu, 16 May 2013 08:02
It's poor form
The Australian Rugby Union, still reeling from the Kurtley Beale saga, have been thrown into turmoil once again.
The coaches of Australia's Super Rugby sides were left fuming after an Email they received from Wallabies mentor Robbie Deans, containing their collective Test selections, was leaked to a media organisation.
This follows in the wake of a series of alcohol-fuelled indiscretions by the talented utility back, Beale, who this week checked himself into an institution to deal with his personal demons.
And before that the ARU were faced with the public outburst of another talented backline player, Quade Cooper - who was handed a hefty fine and a suspended sentence late last year for bringing the game into disrepute after criticising the national team set-up. The 24-year-old said in a TV interview he would not play for Australia unless changes were made to the 'toxic environment' surrounding the team, which he felt was 'destroying' him.
However, the latest media bomb is set an even bigger embarrassment to the Aussies.
Western Force coach Michael Foley said the Email leak could be a distraction for players ahead of the series against the British and Irish Lions.
NSW coach Michael Cheika reportedly didn't take part in the exercise, but the other four coaches all put forward their nominated 23-man Wallabies squads to Deans.
The Email Deans sent back containing their collective selections was the one that got leaked.
It remains a mystery who leaked the Email, but Foley said the biggest loser out of the ordeal could be the players who are fighting for Test selection.
Reds flyhalf Quade Cooper and Rugby League convert Israel Folau failed to make the coaches' squad.
The actual Wallabies squad for the Lions series will be named on Sunday.
"I feel more for the players that have to read that sort of thing in the media and then try and second guess things when all they should be thinking about right now is how they're going to play," Foley told the Australian Associated Press.
"I've been on the other side of the fence as a player aspiring to try and make a Lions series, which is a once in a lifetime chance.
"I think this sort of media speculation on the eve of the squad being announced could be a potential distraction.
"I hope it's not for the players, because the play across Australia this year has been significantly better than what it was last year."
Foley said the leak wouldn't deter him from sharing his thoughts with the Australian Rugby Union in the future.
"I think the dialogue between the national head coach and the head coaches of the states should be open," Foley said.
"That dialogue is extremely important and wouldn't make me reluctant in the future.
"Robbie sent us an Email the other night apologising for the fact that he had been made aware that it was going to be publicised the next day.
"We just move on. I don't know if a witch hunt helps anybody, but I would like to know where it came from."
It's understood players were ranked on a 3-2-1 basis over a number of weeks until late last month.
Despite their strong recent form, Waratahs fullback Folau and Reds No.10 Cooper were left out of the team while James O'Connor was named at flyhalf and suspended star Kurtley Beale was on the bench.
Three of the four coaches who responded were all disappointed and upset their views found their way into the public arena.
One could not be contacted.
"It's a process that we've done in the past each year and suddenly it's in the paper," one coach said. "Our thoughts were requested back in March so some of the opinions are aged.
"To read it in the paper verbatim is frustrating.
"All we've tried to do is help the Wallabies with good intentions.
"Now to read it in the paper is very disappointing.
"It would be interesting to know how the information got out there."
Another coach confirmed Deans had apologised when it was brought to his attention a newspaper had received a copy of his Email.
The provincial coach suspected it had been leaked mischievously - and did not rule out it being the misdeeds of a Super Rugby counterpart.
"You have to shake your head that this has been leaked by someone the day after it's been sent," he said.
"It's poor form.
"It doesn't help the relationship between the national coach and provincial coaches, and it's distracting for the players."
While the ARU denied the leak had come from within, one coach questioned the relevance of the selections considering Deans' strategy and tactics were not shared.
"It's very well asking what the Super Rugby coaches think but we all coach our teams differently," he said.
"If you know the strategy you might pick a different team."
Among other notable selections was the choice of Liam Gill at No.7 ahead of Michael Hooper, at a time George Smith was largely fancied, and Jesse Mogg at fullback.
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