Rennie committed to coaching Wallabies despite Castle exit

Sydney (AFP) –


Incoming coach Dave Rennie says he remains committed to joining the Wallabies, despite deep divisions that forced out Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle last week.

Castle played a key role in recruiting Rennie to coach the struggling Australia Test side but quit the governing body after a sustained campaign mounted by her critics.

New Zealander Rennie said he was "gutted" at her departure but it would not stop him taking the reins at the Wallabies when he completes his contract at Glasgow Warriors.

"She's a big part of the reason I decided to sign with Australia," Rennie told reporters in Britain.

"I was really impressed with her. She had a real clear plan of what the next few years would look like, so I'm really disappointed."

Rennie praised the "dignity and class" Castle displayed when ending a reign marked by a series of crises and escalating financial problems exacerbated by sport's coronavirus shutdown.

The coach, who led Waikato Chiefs to back-to-back Super Rugby titles in 2012 and 2013 before moving to Europe, said he had spoken with Rugby Australia's board about plans for the post-Castle era.

"I am still very committed and we have been doing a lot of work in and around preparation for when the new season comes around," he said.

However, the landscape Rennie will navigate when he takes over remains uncertain.

He was originally due to start in time for a two-Test series at home against Ireland in July, which Rugby Australia concedes is now "highly unlikely" to proceed due to virus restrictions.

Rugby Championship matches against South Africa and Argentina are also in doubt, with Castle raising hopes before her departure that Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand could be salvaged.

Both Australia and New Zealand have enjoyed success containing the virus, raising the prospect the Tests will be played if trans-Tasman travel restrictions are eased before the year's end.