Dave Rennie has confirmed that the departure of Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle will not stop him becoming Wallaby coach when he leaves Glasgow Warriors at the end of June. Rennie had suggested that he might reconsider his decision were Castle to be ousted, but he says that while he is "really disappointed" at her departure, he still intends to take up the post.
"I'm really gutted at the decision to move Raelene on because she is a big part of the reason I signed with Australia," said the New Zealander. "I was really impressed by her. She had a real clean plan over what the next few years looked like, so I am really disappointed."
Rennie is in constant contact with Scott Johnson, the former Scottish Rugby director of high performance rugby who is now in a similar role with Australia, and former Scotland assistant coach Matt Taylor, who is also part of Rennie's team in Australia.
"I've been speaking to a lot of key people who have been affected by the decision," he said. "I'm disappointed with the decision but clearly I want a chat with the board to get clarity over what the plan looks like now. I'm still very committed and have been doing a lot of work in preparation for the new season."
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Asked whether that meant that he was definitely still becoming Wallaby coach, Rennie said: "Yes, yes I am."
The New Zealander, whose Glasgow Warriors side sit third in their Pro14 conference, also said that, largely because of player welfare concerns, he believes the Pro14 season should be declared over, and unbeaten Leinster declared champions.
"We are not going to be playing rugby in June and there are players and members of the coaching staff who won't be there beyond that point," he said. "Whatever decision is made there must be some integrity in the thinking because to try and push the finals back until August and playing them with whoever is left, I'm not sure that would do the league justice.
"We've seen other competitions just awarding the title to the team that is leading. You can't argue against Leinster, who are unbeaten all year and miles in front of the competition. It is hard not to award them the competition, isn't it?"
Asked to clarify whether that was his preferred option, Rennie agreed that it was. Player welfare was, he said, the most important consideration.
"All these decisions have got to be made around player welfare and what's best for the state of the country," he said. "What we really want is some clarity from Pro14 as to what the future looks like. What's their plan, because at the moment players are in limbo.
"The players are still training hard in the hope that maybe we'll come back and play some footy. I just worry that they will try to finish this season and then go straight into next season, flogging the players and ending up with a 13-or-14-month season. From a player welfare point of view that wouldn't be ideal."