Others linked to the top rugby job include former Sydney Rugby Union president David Begg, who made the final five when Castle won the role at the end of 2017, SANZAAR boss Andy Marinos and former Brumbies boss turned-AFL administrator Andrew Fagan.
Broncos chairman Paul White, who was linked to the role in June, told the Herald he had not been contacted by RA or its recruiters. White played rugby well into his 30s and was this year in early talks with blue chip English club Saracens, but is now busy trying to right the Broncos as the Brisbane club navigates a rocky time on the field.
We’ve had strong interest, but there’s no rush. Rob is doing a great job and we’ll take our time.
Rugby Australia chairman Hamish McLennan
World Cup-winning Wallaby Phil Kearns, who was runner up to Castle, had also not been contacted by recruiters and was unlikely to put his hand up for a second crack, he told the Herald.
With interim chief executive Rob Clarke in the chair until Christmas, RA chairman Hamish McLennan said there was no hurry to appoint his replacement.
“We’ve had strong interest, but there’s no rush,”McLennan said. “Rob is doing a great job and we’ll take our time.”
But other sports administrators contacted by the Herald raised doubts about the code’s ability to attract a top-notch replacement for Clark.
RA has no competition format decided for next year and, as a result, no certainty over broadcast or other revenue.
Australia’s precarious COVID-19 situation, with second wave outbreaks in Victoria and NSW, only ups the complexity of planning for next season.
Even a trans-Tasman competition, currently the topic of heated debate in New Zealand and here, could be beyond the code if Australia cannot get its infection rate under control.
Another top administrator said the RA board had a sales job to do on the game if it wanted to attract the best corporate talent.
Many acknowledge its latent strength among top advertisers, given the strength of the Wallabies brand and the international game.
It also has new leadership in McLennan, who has acted quickly to talk up the code’s prospects, including a world-class new Wallabies coaching staff, a British and Irish Lions tour in 2025 and a bid for the 2027 Rugby World Cup.
But the game’s tumultuous recent past could prove a deterrent. COVID-19 laid bare the game’s poor finances but, for outside observers, Castle’s departure a month into the crisis was widely seen to demonstrate the power of its former player clique, who marshalled publicly and behind the scenes to bring change at RA headquarters.
In other news, new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is expected to arrive in Australia next week. It is hoped Rennie will fly out of New Zealand on July 21 and serve his quarantine period in Sydney before hitting the road to tour the Super Rugby sides.
Meanwhile, the Waratahs are expected to name Jack Dempsey in the starting No.8 jersey for the side’s round three clash with the Brumbies at ANZ Stadium on Saturday and young Randwick hooker Tom Horton in the front row.
Dempsey will replace former under-20s star Will Harrison and Horton will replace Robbie Abel, joining Harry Johnson-Holmes and Tom Robertson in an all-Sydney University front row.
The Brumbies are expected to name Tom Banks at fullback.
Georgina Robinson is the chief rugby reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.