Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie reveals membership inquiries on rise following discipline stance

26 November 2013 1:01 PM

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Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie reveals membership inquiries on rise following discipline stance

EWEN McKenzie says his hard-line stance on players caught drinking in Dublin has resulted in jaded Australian rugby fans returning to support the Wallabies.

After suspending six players for one Test and reprimanding a further nine for drinking and returning after midnight four days before the Ireland Test match, McKenzie said the ARU has received an influx of requests for season memberships.

"We've had a lot of negative emails as you'd expect, but after last week we've had a lot of positive emails," McKenzie said.

"For people to write - it's always easier to write a nasty message, that's what generally happens - but if you do well not many people write.

"We've had a lot of positive emails in the last period of time, people are actually going to re-engage in the game, take out memberships, as a result of off-field stuff we've done.

"Some of the disciplinary stuff has been received favourably, they want to have pride in their team to make sure everyone is on the same page."

But McKenzie insisted his stance was not about pleasing a disgruntled rugby public, who have only seen their national team win one major tournament (2011 Tri Nations) in the past decade.

"I'm not making a statement because of the fan-base, that's an indirect outcome," McKenzie said.

"We're making a statement because we're a high-performance team that want to go somewhere.

"There's a whole bunch of players here, some of them have been around for a long time, there's guys that have played 90 Tests, you go back and have a look through at what's happened in that time.

"The Tri Nations is there and some individual games, but there are no Bledisloes, no World Cups, there's one Tri Nations win in the last 10 years since that World Cup final in 2003.

"So to get the team and those players and anyone else that wants to get there to get to another level, we've got to think differently to how we've been doing things.

"It's a good time now, we've got guys coming in, and we can shape them in the direction to how I and the other staff think will make a difference."

Five suspended players; Adam Ashley-Cooper, Nick Cummins, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Benn Robinson and Liam Gill are in contention to return this weekend.

They along with others went out in Dublin, with some drinking nearly $2200 worth of free alcohol provided in the VIP section of Krystle Nightclub.

It prompted Welsh hooker Richard Hibbard to joke this week: "We should sort out a free bar in Cardiff.

"They will have a lot of critics to answer after being dropped. They will be disappointed and will want to finish the tour and their season on a high. They will have a point to prove."

Australia has the chance this weekend against Wales to win four Tests in a row for the first time since 2008.

Asked if he would consider that success since taking over after the Lions debacle in July, McKenzie replied: "All I know is that we've made progress, I know we've made progress even before we played the game on the weekend [against Scotland].

"We track and record everything every day, so I know exactly what's been going on.

"But that's a work in progress, I don't know how you define success, success for me is about improvement.

"Everyone's got a measure on the scoreboard, but we want the fan-base coming back to the game, not disappearing from the game.

"We've got our role to play there. It's not just about winning, people don't just respond to winning, they pay for other reasons.

"Having people take pride in their national side comes from many different things."

Source: news.com.au

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