23 Oct 2014

ARU boss says their game isn't in a mess

12:37 pm on 23 October 2014

Admitting the buck stops with him, the Australian Rugby Union chief executive, Bill Pulver, strongly denies Australian rugby is "a complete mess".

Pulver is hoping Michael Cheika's appointment as the new Wallabies coach will revive the ailing code in Australia after one of the most turbulent fortnights in the sport's history.

Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver

Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cheika's unveiling at ARU headquarters in Sydney came after a tumultuous time in which Pulver presided over the shock resignation of besieged former coach Ewen McKenzie and the Kurtley Beale texting scandal that led to Wallabies business manager Di Patston quitting in distress.

The Wallabies also lost to Argentina this month for the first time in 17 years amid a run of three straight defeats that have sent the Wallabies back to fourth in the rankings less than a year out from the World Cup in Britain.

Under pressure himself to keep his job, Pulver went on the front foot when challenged about the sorry state of affairs.

"Well, I'm accountable for Australian rugby and I accept that totally," he said.

"There's a lot of issues that have been in the spotlight in the last few weeks, in particular surrounding Kurtley Beale and Ewen McKenzie, among others."

"(But) I think (to say Australian rugby is) 'a complete mess' is an exaggeration."

"Literally five weeks ago, the Wallabies had won seven games in a row."

"Then on Saturday, they actually played with an awful lot of character. The way they played (in a 29-28 loss to the All Blacks) does not suggest a team in disarray."

Pulver also rejected the suggestion Australian rugby's reputation had suffered irrevocably.

"Ultimately, my position involves being a custodian for the game and I'm very concerned about the image of the game," he said.

"And I want to deal with all these issues as openly and honestly as I can."

"I hope we start to resolve them - obviously getting through (Beale's) code-of-conduct tribunal on Friday night will be a key component of that."

Pulver and Cheika also rejected the notion they couldn't work together.

Cheika admitted the pair hadn't always seen eye to eye, but the two are presenting a united front.

Cheika says he knew coming into the ARU that there have been a few reports about my relationship with people there, but he thinks that's born more out of him wanting to do the best for the Waratahs.

"Now that we are in the same team, it's important that we understand together - and I understand too - that we've got to the best possible job, united together for the people that we're all answerable to: the Australian rugby supporters."

"We want them to be extremely proud of the team."

Cheika says he won't be frightened to challenge Pulver if need be. "I wouldn't be scared to say that if I think there's something that's going to be for the betterment for the team, then we can have a rumble about it."

"We don't all need to be holding hands singing We Are The World together."

Pulver says having three coaches in 15 months isn't ideal. "I'm actually not a big fan of changing coaches regularly."

"Letting Robbie Deans go was clearly something I was directly accountable for. Ewen's decision to resign was not my decision."

"So I'm not happy we've had three, but I'm very happy with the one I have now."