The favourite for the Wallabies coaching job, Ewen McKenzie, has scratched himself
from the race, a move that causes some journalistic embarrassment as well as throwing
the legion of armchair rugby experts into a spin.

announcement was being made on Crikey’s deadline at a midday Waratahs
media conference but the story was broken by Margie McDonald in this morning’s

leaves egg on the face of Fairfax’s Sun-Herald and Rugby Heaven site, which was
claiming an exclusive yesterday for a story that the top job had become a
two-horse race between Waratahs coach McKenzie and former Queensland Reds
coach John “Knuckles” Connolly, quoting McKenzie as looking forward to the
interview process starting in the next couple of weeks.

before McKenzie pulled out, it wasn’t a two-horse race. Wales’ skill coach
Scott Johnson is definitely in the running despite the Welsh laying on the
charm and the cash to try to keep him for the 2007 World Cup campaign. Wales’ departing
coach, David Moffett, last month implied Wales could only
make the Cup semi-finals if they managed to retain Johnson. And there are
allegations of a British club salary of $700,000.

McKenzie business is very strange. He was very forthright in proclaiming his
interest for the job. One of the questions he should be answering today is
whether NSW Rugby simply turned on the cash with no regard to the best outcome
for the Wallabies. Whatever the reason, pulling out now will be remembered if
he ever sticks his hand up for the top job again.

should have become Wallaby coach in 1995 when the NSW numbers unfortunately
gave the job to Greg Smith instead. While the Queenslander was a very
successful coach for most of his 13 years with the State and in Europe for the
past four seasons, there have to be doubts about whether his style is the way
forward for the national team.

a Sun-Herald columnist, he’s in a nice position to put his case for the job
while Johnson is concentrating on a Six Nations tournament.

then there is David Nucifora, the Super 12 winning Brumbies coach now coaching
Auckland. His major problem would be his relationship with the most important
Wallaby: Stephen Larkham. Nucifora was sacked by the Brumbies after failing to
hold the confidence of several senior players.

selection panel has a most interesting task before it.