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Australian rugby
White says nationality made the difference
July 9, 2013

Brumbies coach Jake White believes Ewen McKenzie was given the nod over him for the Wallabies coaching role because he's Australian.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) will confirm on Tuesday afternoon that Queensland Reds director of coaching McKenzie will take over from Robbie Deans at a press conference in Brisbane at 2pm (AEST).

South African White said that while he hadn't yet been called by the ARU - who approached him for the role a few weeks ago - he wished McKenzie all the best. White said it wasn't just a perception that McKenzie got the nod over him because of his Australian heritage.

"It's a fact," White said. "It just happened. You fired the cricket coach, put an Aussie in, fired the rugby coach and put an Aussie in. It's not a case that I'm fearing about it. South African pick a South African, Kiwis pick Kiwis. England rugby pick English people to pick the team. "They've tried foreigners and I appreciate that. That doesn't mean that I have to agree or disagree with it. That's the nature of the game we're in."

White - who helped steer South Africa to win the 2007 IRB Rugby World Cup - hinted at obtaining Australian citizenship for when the job next became available.

"I'm not sure. I've got to say, 'I'm not sure, mate'," he said.

White said he was less disappointed about missing out on the Wallabies coaching role and more relieved that he could focus on the Brumbies' Super Rugby finals surge.

"For a long period of time there was a lot of speculation, a lot of anticipation," he said. "The decision is made and that is nice. It's given us clarity."

He said the clarity was also good for the players.

"They know who the coach is. They know who they are going to the World Cup with," he said. "They know what they've got to do now, what sort of player Ewen has looked at in the last couple of years."

White extended his congratulations to McKenzie on the posting.

"It hasn't panned out. They've obviously gone for Ewen and that's fantastic," he said. "He's got a phenomenal record for the Reds and the Waratahs. He's been there and done it in terms of Super Rugby, he's played for Australia. I wish him all the best."

© AAP
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