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Greg Growden
Greg Growden | Columnist Index
After more than 30 years with The Sydney Morning Herald and Fairfax Media in Australia, Greg Growden now writes exclusively online for ESPNscrum. Never afraid to step on toes, you can expect plenty of compelling insight from one of Australia's most renowned rugby writers.
Ruck'n Maul
Queensland Reds to approach Ewen McKenzie
Greg Growden
May 2, 2013
Russell Barwick and Greg Growden discuss the big issues in Australian rugby
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Queensland Reds officials will ask Ewen McKenzie to reconsider his decision to leave the team at the end of the Super Rugby season. McKenzie, who is eager to snare a Test coaching position (preferably the Wallabies), was for some weeks the front-runner for the Ireland job, but the Irish Rugby Football Union opted to appoint Leinster's Joe Schmidt. Several worried Queensland officials want "Link" to stay in spite of his announcement a few weeks ago that he would depart the Reds to pursue his dream of a Test coaching position. And they have the backing of the Reds players. It is widely known that McKenzie's understudy, Richard Graham, is not the pin-up boy of several key Reds players - both forwards and backs. Important Reds - including at least four Wallabies - are desperate for McKenzie to stay, even indicating they will consider leaving Queensland if McKenzie is not head coach next season. No wonder Reds head office is concerned. Recent suggestions that James O'Connor was sniffing around the Reds surprised people in the know who have long memories of the nasty moments when O'Connor left the Graham-coached Western Force province in 2011. O'Connor is scheduled to head north from the Rebels, but end up well short of Brisbane.

Israel Folau has officials running scared

The endless praise from the Australian Rugby Union (ARU) towards Israel Folau - with Robbie Deans this week saying he will become "an absolute legend" of the game - is no shock. Officials are scared Folau is on his way to rugby league, and they are doing everything they can to convince him to stay in rah-rah land. Best of luck! Our well-connected snouts are adamant Folau is considering a "massive" offer from the Canterbury-Bankstown Bulldogs NRL club, while Sydney Roosters are also hovering. A Folau decision is anticipated at the end of this month.

Official has lost favour from players

Fun and games at New South Wales Waratahs, with strong word that one of their leading officials missed out on a big marketing job at the ARU; not surprising, considering this official no longer has the confidence of many at Moore Park - in particular the Waratahs players and coaching staff. We've been told that a major bungle with the seating plan on the Waratahs team flight to South Africa added to the tension, with several players furious where they ended up. When the Waratahs return, there is certain to be a showdown involving coach Michael Cheika and this stay-at-home official. Cheika, who is being chased by several European clubs in particular Leinster, could easily walk if this official continues to mess up. One of the Waratahs official's bungling sidekicks is also in the firing line. Also over at Western Force, there have been clashes between coaching staff and a board member. This issue has been festering for some time. Apparently the use of certain cricket terms hasn't helped the situation.

Key ARU management to quit

Despite the ARU recently revealing their new-look management team, with fancy new titles, those running the show will be shocked to know two on that list are expected to leave St Leonards soon. One with an impressive tag has been linked to the NRL, and the ARU will struggle big time if he goes. The second - another substantial big hitter- is scheduled to depart after the Test series against the British & Irish Lions. And the purge to dramatically cut costs at the ARU continues.

Rebellion in Melbourne?

Down in Melbourne, there have been hissy fits over the ARU appointing Rob Clarke as the Rebels interim chief executive officer. Our River Yarra-based snouts tell us that one Rebels official was deeply infuriated by this move, especially after he had been encouraged by a long-time troublemaker to seek the permanent CEO position. The troublemaker has been exposed to the Rebels players, and they are not impressed that this out-of-touch heavyweight keeps messing up.

Yes, Sergeant-Major ...

Our item a few weeks ago quoting a Brumbies player complaining: "One ---ing month without a break from each other. What is this? Robben Island?" has had ramifications. The Brumbies management has been trying to find out who said it, and the relationship between two members of the province's off-field staff has deteriorated in recent weeks. This laconic character is not enthused by the sergeant-major attitude of another.

Sumfink or nuffink

That notorious serial-offending official Radio has a second nickname. He's also called "Robin Hood" after being sighted at a Sydney club game hiding in the trees. Also, the Robin Hood tag has something to do with "merry men". We now nuffink.

Wallabies packing down for Gordon?

Is it true that two Wallabies were sighted in the Gordon fourth-grade team last weekend? Running around in the Highlanders' front-row were props looking very similar to 1986 Wallaby Mark Hartill and 1991 Rugby World Cup-winning front-rower Tony Daly.

Rugby to celebrate Anzac Day in 2014

Good to hear the positive response to our call for Australian/New Zealand provincial matches on Anzac Day. Looks as if it will be a goer next year. Not before time.


Contact Greg Grown on Twitter @greggrowden if you have information to share.

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