Wallabies coach Ewen McKenzie has refuted claims that he had an intimate relationship with team official Di Patston.
Wallabies star Kurtley Beale is currently under investigation by the Australian Rugby Union following his altercation with Patston. The incident occurred when the Wallabies were flying from South Africa to Argentina for their final Rugby Championship match, and Beale has since been stood down from the team.
On Friday, the Sydney Morning Herald reported that there are new allegations involving McKenzie and Patston, the team's business manager. There are suggestions that the two shared an intimate rather than a professional relationship.
McKenzie moved to quash these rumours at the naming of his 32-man squad to play the All Blacks. He also denied that the players have lost faith in their coach.
'I've got a professional relationship with her, and I refute that,' he said of Patson.
'I don't think I have a divided camp. I know there's been lots of talk in the newspapers and everyone's got an opinion, but I know the playing group. I've been open and frank in my time so if there's an issue, obviously we'll flesh them out.'
Meanwhile, McKenzie has included Quade Cooper in his 32-man squad. It's likely that Cooper will be included in the match 23 when the Wallabies tackle the All Blacks in Brisbane.
Brumbies wing Henry Speight has also been included in the squad, although at this stage will not be considered for selection as he enters the final stages of his rehabilitation from an injured hamstring. He will be available during Australia’s five-game Spring Tour, which includes matches against the Barbarians, Wales, France, Ireland and England.
Speight is one of four uncapped members in the squad, alongside Western Force tighthead prop Tetera Faulkner and centre Kyle Godwin, and Melbourne Rebels winger Tom English.
Brumbies centre Matt Toomua drops out of the squad through injury after receiving a head knock in Australia’s most recent clash against Argentina in Mendoza, while flyhalf Kurtley Beale will not be considered until a Code of Conduct Hearing is finalised.
In other news, medical staff have advised that Western Force back rower Ben McCalman will be unavailable for the remainder of the year, following a shoulder injury he sustained against South Africa a fortnight ago.
Players who have not been considered for selection due to injury include hookers Stephen Moore (knee), Tatafu Polota-Nau (ankle), Nathan Charles (pectoral), Tolu Latu (arm) and Heath Tessman (ankle), prop Scott Sio (ankle), backrowers Wycliff Palu (head), David Pocock (knee), McCalman (shoulder) and Dave Dennis (knee), centre Toomua (head) and outside backs Peter Betham (ankle), and Chris Feauai-Sautia (shoulder).
Wallabies squad – Ben Alexander, Tetera Faulkner, Sekope Kepu, Benn Robinson, James Slipper, Saia Fainga'a, James Hanson, Josh Mann-Rea, Sam Carter, James Horwill, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, Scott Fardy, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Michael Hooper (c), Luke Jones, Jake Schatz, Will Genia, Nick Phipps, Nic White, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Kyle Godwin, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali'ifano, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tom English, Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane.
Photo: Chris Hyde/Getty Images