Jake sideshow no Wallaby distraction
Jake sideshow no Wallaby distractionSHARE
Jake White may have stolen the headlines this week, but the World Cup-winning former Springbok coach won't be stealing the Wallabies' thunder.
White dropped a bomb this week when he revealed that he won't be returning to Australia from Cape Town, where he is currently on holiday, and was given a release from the remaining two years on his contract with the Brumbies.
It was feared White's unexpected departure would have a negative impact on the substantial Brumby contingent in the Wallaby squad – ahead of Saturday's crucial Rugby Championship test between South Africa and Australia at Newlands.
White steered the Brumbies to a Super Rugby Final this year to cap an ascendant two seasons for the Australian franchise, but decided to stay in South Africa – where he has been linked with a coaching job at the Sharks – after Ewen McKenzie pipped him for top post at the Wallabies.
With eight Brumbies in the starting XV – Stephen Moore, Ben Alexander, Scott Fardy, Ben Mowen, Nic White, Joe Tomane, Christian Leali'ifano and Tevita Kuridrani – as well Matt Toomua on the bench it was feared the shockwaves could disrupt the Wallaby preparation ahead of their Newlands showdown with the Boks.
However, McKenzie was adamant White's shock departure won't affect the team.
"It popped up as a rumour and then turned into reality pretty quickly," McKenzie said of the White saga – which was first aired on social networks like Twitter, before an official statement from the Brumbies confirmed White's departure.
"What happens in terms of the Brumbies' perspective won't be resolved tomorrow or the next day," McKenzie said, adding: "That will remain there to be sorted.
"From a clarity point of view, from the players that are here [in Cape Town], they understand what's transpired.
"The organisation [the Brumbies] will work on where they are going.
"However, from the players' perspective they know 100 percent what is going on.
"It allows them to deal with it, put it to one side and get on with playing this game.
"I don't envisage it is going to have any distraction – it has been done and dusted in 36 hours."
The Brumbies players, including captain Ben Mowen, met with White this week – when the former Bok mentor explained the reasons behind his decision.
While White has not spoken publicly, Brumbies CEO Andrew Fagan confirmed that he was upset at being overlooked for the Wallaby job.
"To have Jake decide that he wants to pursue his international coaching ambitions from South Africa at this late stage is disappointing," Fagan said.
"He has achieved a great deal for the Brumbies and we felt he certainly had more to offer.
"But I understand his reasons for seeking the release. He was obviously very disappointed in missing out on the Wallabies job and he sees his best opportunity to further his international coaching career is from South Africa."
A "shocked" Fagan said White, who coached the Springboks to victory in the 2007 World Cup, also had two sons in South Africa who he wanted to spend more time with.
Assistant coaches Laurie Fisher and Stephen Larkham, a former Wallaby with 102 Test caps, would step into the breach while permanent arrangements were made, with reports the franchise would likely elevate one of the pair rather than look externally to replace White.
By Jan de Koning