I'll talk to Gaz if he calls: McKenzie - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

I'll talk to Gaz if he calls: McKenzie

By David Beniuk 20/06/2008 05:26:25 PM Comments (0)

Former NSW Waratahs coach Ewen McKenzie says he'll gladly take a call from NRL superstar Mark Gasnier about joining him at champion French rugby club Stade Francais.

And McKenzie's phone is already running hot as Australian players clamber to head to Europe, the coach said after signing with the Paris-based club for three years.

Gasnier, who has indicated he would consider switching codes to play rugby in France, was recently joined by Bulldogs superstar Sonny Bill Williams in expressing an interest in the 15-man game, despite both being signed to long-term deals with their NRL clubs.

"If someone approaches me about those guys, well and good," McKenzie said.

"I'm surprised how many rugby players there are out there who want a transition in the game, that want a new experience.

"Stade Francais is widely recognised as one of the marquee teams so I'm going to have my hands full working out just what's happening on the rugby front.

"If someone rings me up, well so be it. But at this point in time I'm looking at rugby players."

McKenzie said he had not spoken with Test centre Gasnier, but the former Wallabies assistant was closely involved with the St George Illawarra skipper's near defection to the Waratahs in 2006.

"I'm not sure what his status is," McKenzie said.

"He's obviously a great player.

"I don't know. I've signed on the dotted line the other day. I'll start looking at the market.

"I haven't spoken to him about it, though."

McKenzie was making no apologies for suddenly finding himself a key man as both rugby codes in Australia seek to stem a steady player drain to Europe.

"Everyone's fair game now," he said.

"I now operate in an international market.

"My coaching in Australia's been very much working in I guess the rugby market here.

"When you coach overseas, it's a bigger pool you can draw from. They have the opportunity to bring in international players so I've got to learn a whole bunch of new player managers.

"One of the things I do pride myself on is doing my due diligence on recruitment.

"Once I get there I'll spend a lot of time over

the next few years recruiting and obviously trying to enhance the program.

"Most of the players are already organised so there's one or two opportunities and I'll certainly be involved in sorting that out.

"It's amazing how many people ring up and suddenly want to live in Paris.

"It'll be a job vetting that, there's certainly a lot of people interested."

One sticking point for would-be Parisian footballers could be language, with McKenzie, who spent two seasons in France as a player, planning to coach in French.

"My comprehension's pretty good from my time there," he said.

"If you actually immerse yourself in the language, it comes back to you very quickly so I'm confident that I'll be doing my job in French and doing it their way.

"I'm not going to go there and take the Australian way there. I'll go there and try and value-add in their culture and their language."

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