The New South Wales Rugby Union has confirmed it will not renew the contract of Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie beyond the 2008 Super 14 season.
NSWRU chief executive Jim L’Estrange on Tuesday confirmed McKenzie’s five-year reign would end in July, even if the Waratahs made the semi-finals or won their long overdue first Super title.
NSW assistant coach Todd Louden, who helped guide the South African-based Bulls to the championship last year, is favourite to succeed McKenzie, although the Blues’ Australian coach David Nucifora has also been linked to the role.
McKenzie was typically pragmatic about his demise.
“Jim and I have been talking for some time about the future and we had a really good meeting yesterday and I’m satisfied that we can both now move ahead,” McKenzie said.
“We told the team before training yesterday, then went right on with the job preparing (for the Blues on Saturday night).
“In an ideal world, you’d like to go on and on but this is professional sport and I’ve been in the job longer than anyone else so I’ve had a good innings.”
McKenzie’s sacking ends a month of speculation about his future at the Tahs.
The former World Cup-winning prop has been under pressure since NSW finished 13th last season, above only Queensland.
Despite the Waratahs having won four of six matches this campaign – losing on the bell to the Chiefs in Hamilton in round two and to the unbeaten Crusaders two weeks ago in Christchurch – they have come under fire for lacking enterprise in attack.
McKenzie’s fate was effectively sealed last Friday night when the Waratahs were outscored three tries to two in struggling to beat the winless Cheetahs 23-19 at the Sydney Football Stadium.
Former NSW and Australia captain Mark Ella last week labelled the Waratahs the most boring of all four Australian franchises, despite being the highest-profile team and boasting an impressive playing roster.
“Of all the Australian teams, we’ve probably got the biggest stars but we play the worst football,” Ella said.
It has been quite a fall from grace for McKenzie, who only three years ago steered the Waratahs to the final – losing to the Crusaders – and then the semi-finals the following season.
NSW are the only Australian team to have qualified for the Super play-offs since the Brumbies won their second title in 2004.
But precariously placed in eighth position and possessing the equal-second worst attacking record at the halfway point of the 2008 tournament, McKenzie’s bosses – conscious of being in the entertainment business – have finally run out of patience.Tweet