15 Oct 2014

Former Wallabies staffer on medication

12:45 pm on 15 October 2014

The Australia rugby coach Ewen McKenzie says former Wallabies staff member Di Patston is on heavy medication after quitting her job amid a growing scandal over "offensive" text messages sent by utility back Kurtley Beale.

McKenzie also said he took responsibility for Patston's welfare after bringing her into an "environment" that would duly cast her out.

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie

Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Beale was suspended last week pending a hearing into allegations he distributed lewd messages about Patston, the team's business manager, in June.

That move came while the ARU was considering disciplinary action against Beale after a mid-air row with Patston as the Wallabies travelled from South Africa to Argentina for their final Rugby Championship Test.

Local media have since focused on Patston's work history, casting doubts over her qualifications and questioning the ARU's due diligence in their hiring.

McKenzie, who was moved to deny having had an "intimate relationship" with Patston in an extraordinary media conference last week, defended her again on Tuesday and revealed the extent of her turmoil.

"I monitor her welfare," McKenzie, who worked with Patston at Super Rugby team Queensland Reds before bringing her across to the Wallabies, told reporters.

"She did an outstanding job for me over a long period of time and made a massive contribution and now suddenly she's out there on the outer and under massive pressure, as I said, heavily medicated and under a fair bit of media scrutiny which is... I find it incredible, the depths of that."

"If you google her name it'll be difficult for her to get a job so I think it's been a really difficult time."

"You employ someone and you bring them into that environment and the environment then casts them out."

"I do feel responsible for her welfare so I can't not take that responsibility."

The scandal has completely overshadowed the Australians' preparations for their third and final Bledisloe Cup Test against the holders and World Cup winners New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.

Already under pressure after closing out the Rugby Championship with disappointing losses to South Africa and Argentina, McKenzie's tenure has suddenly become precarious as local media question his relationship with Patston and his players.

Following the mid-flight row, McKenzie missed a training session in Argentina to drive an upset Patston to the airport after she decided to leave their tour early.

The ARU has publicly backed McKenzie to lead the Wallabies through next year's World Cup, but the governing body is also caught in an awkward position.

Though Beale has a poor off-field record, senior players have been vocal in their support for the talented 25-year-old and the ARU risks alienating the squad by tearing up his national contract.

McKenzie said he was not worried about speculation over his future, but conceded that his job was "values-based" as well as dependent on results.

"If someone taps you on the shoulder and says 'it's time', that's what happens at some point," he said. "I'm not going to sit there and worry about every newspaper article or everything that flashes up across the screen."

"There's a lot of other issues going on at the moment and I like to make sure that I'm attending to the things that are important."

"In the end it's a results-based business, I suppose, and I don't shy away from that. By the same token, it's a values-based business as well, so you've got to be doing the right things on and off the field."

The Australian rugby boss Bill Pulver has given his support to besieged Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie before this weekend's Bledisloe Cup Test against the All Blacks.

Pulver was responding to reports that a coaching change may be imminent in the turmoil around the Kurtley Beale texting scandal.

Pulver says he can confirm the ARU hasn't had any conversations with any other coaches regarding the Wallabies coaching position.

Pulver says McKenzie is coaching the team this weekend and next Friday he'll board the plane with the team for the spring (European) tour, and is contracted to Australian Rugby to lead the Wallabies to next year's Rugby World Cup.

Last week McKenzie rejected rumours about his relationship with business manager Di Patston, who has resigned her post following a mid-flight argument with Beale during their trip to Argentina.

Beale was suspended from the Argentina game over the argument, and was later barred from selection indefinitely after the emergence of "deeply offensive text messages" concerning Patston.

Reports said McKenzie retained the support of his Wallabies squad following a clear-the-air team meeting to address fallout from the Beale texting scandal.

Kurtley Beale  - "I feel so bad"

Kurtley Beale - "I feel so bad" Photo: PHOTOSPORT

News Corp reported that Beale sent photographs of nude, overweight women accompanied by the words "Would you hit it?" and "Di", and "Di who wants a go ....?".

Patston replied: I am sitting here in the team room doing my job and I can't stop crying. What did I do to you? You have barely known me a day. I can't stop crying I am so humiliated by this. Don't you think my job is hard enough without this? This is how the only female staff member is treated? I am so embarrassed by this I am leaving for my room I can't stop crying thanks a lot."

Beale: I was layin on my bed I didn't send it to anyone I sent it to myself. Youve done nothing wrong youve been so good to me & your such a lovely lady. We all see how hard you work for us. I just do stupid things for no reason. I was laying here getting ready for lunch & training mucking around. I hate I have done this to you & I am so sorry di.

Patston: Leave me alone please. I've come to my room. The team room is full of players I know you've sent it on to them but I'll never know to who. Just leave me alone this is not ok. Do you realise the situation you've put me in? I have earned this job and I am proud of being a female at this level. If I complain then I make it hard for women in Rugby and it puts the reputation of the entire squad at stake. Do you realise the situation I am? Just leave me alone please. I don't want to hear from you until my distress has settled.

Beale: Ok I feel so bad.

Patston: You may feel bad but if you did not accidentally send them to me how many more would there be? Are you sorry you did it or just sorry you got caught? Think about that.

Beale: I just don't know what to do. I'm so sorry.

Patston: Glad we got the chance to catch up and talk it through. I wanted you to look me in the eyes and realise I am a person a mum, wife and daughter (all those things we discussed) and how they would feel seeing what you sent me. I'll never know who you sent them to or why; but everyone deserves a chance. You were clearly upset and showed remorse which I am for. I hope you can move on from this with a greater respect for treating people the right way. As I said, I won't be telling Ewen, or the ARU as you are entitled to one mistake and be a better person for it. I hope this is your moment and you gain a greater respect for the people here doing a job for you and the rest of the team. Let's move on from this and start anew. No need to talk about it any further. Di.

Beale: I can't believe your not going to tell Ewen or the ARU this means so much to me & I have learned my lesson I promise you. You have been very kind to me di and I'll never do anything like this again. Seeing you so upset hurt me I couldn't deal with it. You have my respect & deserve better you do so much for us & work so hard. Wish I could take it back. Thankyou di.