Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie is spending the opening five months of 2014 as Wallabies chief executive – restructuring operations and reducing costs.
In his first full year after replacing Robbie Deans, McKenzie has revealed he’s running Australia’s Test team “like a business” to help boost the finally embattled code.
He’ll take up his first training session on June 2 – five days before the opening Test against France – but before then the analytical, pragmatic mentor is running a fine-toothed comb over all facets of the team to make operations more efficient.
“Everything I can possibly look at from the budget forwards,” McKenzie told AAP.
“It’s a big business. The team is a big economic engine so it attracts a fair bit of revenue and fair bit of cost to manage.
“I’m across everything so I run it like a business.”
The Australian Rugby Union will announce the changes to the Wallabies organisations, operations and Test preparations in the coming weeks.
Among them are new training venues – including a base at the Gold Coast’s Sanctuary Cove before the opening June 7 Test – and travel plans.
McKenzie had declared after last September’s record 38-12 loss to South Africa in Brisbane that he’d leave no stone unturned in making the improvements required to put the Wallabies back at the top of the game.
Demoting his Queensland Reds favourites Will Genia and James Horwill was only the start of the big calls, which continued on the European tour with a focus on team culture by suspending six players for late-night boozing.
The restructuring has also helped bankroll the new National Rugby Championship, which needs to be financially sustainable to survive as a much-needed third-tier competition.
“We have to be realistic and responsible,” McKenzie said. “There’s other things going on in the game we have to do.”
ARU chief executive officer Bill Pulver praised the Wallabies coach in late 2013 for proactively reducing costs.
With 14 Tests, plus a Barbarians match at the start of the end-of-year European tour, McKenzie is well pleased with the competition for Wallaby spots in Super Rugby and expects a tough time selecting a squad in May.
But his planning – set out all the way to next year’s World Cup in England – doesn’t extend to a proposed hybrid game against the Great Britain rugby league team in December in London.