Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has denied reports that Ewen McKenzie was forced out of his job due to a lack of support from the players.
Wallabies captain Michael Hooper has denied reports that Ewen McKenzie was forced out of his job because of a lack of support from the playing staff.
McKenzie, who resigned on the morning of their last-second defeat to the All Blacks, walks away after a difficult few months for Australian rugby.
But contrary to reports, flanker Hooper stressed that the players were behind the coach, with the Wallabies now in turmoil ahead of November.
“I don’t think he lost the respect of the players to be honest,” Hooper told Sunday’s media conference.
“Last night’s game showed that he didn’t lose the respect of the players.
“He really showed what he’s worth in the back end of the week. We played for him, we played for everyone in the staff, we played for everyone as a group, so he didn’t lose the respect of the players.”
Hooper said he respected McKenzie’s decision to abruptly walk out after he was forced to deny speculation last week of an intimate relationship with former team business manager Di Patston, at the centre of disciplinary proceedings facing Kurtley Beale.
Beale has been suspended following an on-flight argument with Patston and claims that he sent offensive text messages about her. She has since quit the Wallabies set-up.
“You have to respect his decision as an individual. So he’s got his reasons for that and we respect those,” Hooper said.
“After the game to come in and finish like that and it was a blow to hear about Ewen McKenzie’s departure after the match but we respect his decision as an individual.
“On behalf of the players, he has done a lot for the players, so we wish him all the best and thank him for his contribution.
“As a group, we’re united and we are looking forward to the five-week tour that we have coming up this Friday.”