Ewen McKenzie may be put in the tough spot of having to name his Wallabies Bledisloe squad before an ARU investigation into Kurtley Beale is complete.
Under-pressure Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie may be forced to name his squad for next week’s Bledisloe Cup match before an ARU investigation into Kurtley Beale is completed.
Troubled star Beale was immediately whisked away by ARU officials upon touching down in Sydney on Tuesday night with his playing future unclear following a mid-air confrontation with Wallabies staffer Di Patston.
The ARU’s integrity unit is looking to finalise its investigation into the incident which occurred when the team was en route between South Africa and Argentina by the end of the week.
Both Beale and McKenzie are set to be interviewed at the game’s headquarters in St Leonards on Wednesday and the Wallabies coach will announce his squad for the third Bledisloe – against New Zealand in Brisbane on October 18 – on either Thursday or Friday this week.
Depending how far integrity unit boss Phil Thompson is already through his investigation, findings into Beale may not be finalised by the time the squad is announced.
With inside back Matt Toomua battling a concussion problem, McKenzie would be hard-pressed leading Beale out of his squad on form alone.
Beale arrived home from Australia’s disastrous tour, where they lost to the Springboks and then historically to Argentina, to waiting media, and was immediately escorted away by David Crombie, the ARU President.
The off-contract NSW Waratahs playmaker has been linked to possible moves to the NRL or French rugby.
McKenzie emerged through the arrival gate and told reporters he couldn’t confirm whether Beale would be included in his squad to face the All Blacks should the investigation into his off-field behaviour still be ongoing.
“You’re asking questions I haven’t even got around to thinking about the squad,” said McKenzie, who reportedly sat next to Patston at the time of the alleged incident and later accompanied the Business Manager to Buenos Aires airport for her immediate flight home to Australia.
“Obviously we’ve already flagged the ARU has undertaken an investigation and that will happen.
“I don’t know the exact timing. Obviously it’s been targeted for this week.
“It’s been a tough period.”
McKenzie has flagged that personnel changes could be on the horizon for the end of year Spring Tour, after several stars have failed to impress from extended opportunities.
Stars Will Genia and Quade Cooper are both expected to play in an NRC game on Thursday at Brookvale Oval and are on the comeback trail.
McKenzie confirmed the coaching staff were looking through options.
“We’ve got lots of situations now with injuries,” he said.
“We’ve gone through the replays and spent all Sunday on that topic looking at the football side of it.
“There’s some bits and pieces that will be a discussion amongst the coaching staff and there’s things we’re looking at.”
“I’ve had lots of challenges in the job but it’s quite clear we’re trying to make progress and not everything is going our way.”