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Raelene Castle concedes selection structure changes contributed to relationship breakdown with Michael Cheika

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has conceded that the selection structure changes made to the Wallabies contributed to her relationship breakdown with head coach Michael Cheika.

It’s been made clear Cheika was “uncomfortable” not being able to pick his own team, with Director of Rugby Scott Johnson and fellow selector Michael O’Connor also part of a three man selection panel.

It comes after Cheika revealed he had no relationship with Castle or Johnson after Australia were bundled out of the Rugby World Cup quarter finals in Japan by England 40-16.

Castle told Macquarie Sports Radio Halftime it was never an ideal situation that her and Cheika didn’t have a working relationship on the back of those changes.

“It’s not ideal, coaches and CEOs often have quite difficult relationships,” Castle said.

“That’s the nature of the engagement that we’re in and certainly the changes we made for the long term benefit for the high performance program and on the back of Michael being at a 50 percent win rate, we felt it was the right decision to make and Michael’s on the record that we wasn’t 100 percent comfortable with those changes.

“Scott Johnson was the person who took that mantle to make sure he was the person dealing with Michael on a regular basis.

“Michael reported directly to Scott and it was Scott and Michael that were leading for the discussions.

“We worked together fine for the last two and a half years and with the changes that were put in place Michael was uncomfortable with those as he said publicly.”

The last 12 months has seen the state of Australian Rugby slammed on the back of its poor results with 2018 yielding just four wins from 13 games, while the Israel Folau saga has torn the sport apart.

Castle also revealed where she believes the state of Rugby is in Australia at both the Shute Shield and grassroots levels.

Earlier this week Wallaby representative Nick Phipps believed the national team having multiple selectors was a contributing factor behind Michael Cheika and the Wallabies’ demise.

“I think so, it (three selectors was always going to be trouble) and the board probably new that at the time,” Phipps said.

“Cheik and Scott are both loud, big, powerful men so them going at it behind closed doors, the players never really knew that was going on.

“You could tell towards the end a lot of things were happening that weren’t as congruent or Cheiks’ ways as to earlier seasons, ultimately he said that made it feel very hard.”

Cheika has a 50 percent winning record as Australian head coach with 34 wins from a possible 68 games as coach including two draws.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images.

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