Wallabies in search of new man at the top

RUGBY: New South Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is expected to be on the plane to Europe on Friday as the new coach of the Wallabies after the shock resignation of Ewen McKenzie.

South Africa's World Cup-winning coach Jake White is the other obvious contender after he missed out to McKenzie when New Zealander Robbie Deans was dumped last year.

Cheika, who led the Waratahs to this year's Super Rugby title, has drawn high praise for implementing a successful, attacking approach, while White was regarded as being more conservative in his time in charge of the ACT Brumbies.

McKenzie informed ARU boss Bill Pulver of his decision to stand down just hours before Saturday night's 29-28 loss to the All Blacks in Brisbane.

At a press conference yesterday, Pulver told reporters he had tried to persuade McKenzie to stay in the job.

"I wasn't eager to accept the coach's resignation," Pulver said.

He also said that despite speculation in the days leading up to the match that McKenzie's future was in doubt, he had not spoken to any potential replacements.

"I have had no conversations with any other coaches about this prospect," Pulver said

"I've got a list of options in mind and I've got a lot of work to do.

"I did not expect Ewen McKenzie to resign."

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper also threw his support behind McKenzie, saying the team's effort against the All Blacks showed that contrary to McKenzie's suggestion after the match that he had lost the respect of some players, the team had been fully behind the coach.

"I don't think he lost the respect of the players," Hooper said.

"He really showed what he's worth and we played for him.

"We play for the staff and everyone as a group. We play as a whole."

The squad for the tour of Europe will be named tomorrow.

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