Rugby: Ex-Wallabies manager in Beale row 'heavily medicated', says coach McKenzie

(REUTERS) - Former Wallabies official Di Patston is on heavy medication after quitting her job amid an explosive scandal over "offensive" text messages sent by utility back Kurtley Beale, coach Ewen McKenzie said on Tuesday.

He also said he took responsibility for Patston's welfare after bringing her into an "environment" that would duly cast her out.

Beale was suspended last week pending a hearing into allegations he distributed lewd messages about Patston, the team's then business manager, in June.

That move came while the ARU was considering disciplinary action against Beale after a mid-air row with Patston as the Wallabies travelled from South Africa to Argentina for their final Rugby Championship Test match.

Local media have since focused on Patston's work history, casting doubts over her qualifications and questioning the ARU's due diligence in their hiring.

McKenzie, who was moved to deny having had an "intimate relationship" with Patston in an extraordinary media conference last week, defended her again on Tuesday and revealed the extent of her turmoil.

"I monitor her welfare," McKenzie, who worked with Patston at Super Rugby team Queensland Reds before bringing her across to the Wallabies, told reporters in Brisbane on Tuesday.

"She did an outstanding job for me over a long period of time and made a massive contribution and now suddenly she's out there on the outer and under massive pressure, as I said, heavily medicated and under a fair bit of media scrutiny which is ... I find it incredible, the depths of that.

"If you google her name it'll be difficult for her to get a job so I think it's been a really difficult time.

"You employ someone and you bring them into that environment and the environment then casts them out.

"I do feel responsible for her welfare so I can't not take that responsibility."

The scandal has completely overshadowed the Wallabies' preparations for their third and final Bledisloe Cup Test against world champions New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday.

Already under pressure after closing out the Rugby Championship with disappointing losses to South Africa and Argentina, McKenzie's tenure has suddenly become precarious as local media question his relationship with Patston and his players.

Following the mid-flight row, he missed a training session in Argentina to drive an upset Patston to the airport after she decided to leave their tour early.

The ARU has publicly backed McKenzie to lead the Wallabies through next year's World Cup, but the governing body is also caught in an awkward position.

Though Beale has a poor off-field record, senior players have been vocal in their support for the talented 25-year-old and the ARU risks alienating the squad by tearing up his national contract.

McKenzie said he was not worried about speculation over his future, but conceded that his job was "values-based" as well as dependent on results.

"If someone taps you on the shoulder and says 'it's time', that's what happens at some point," he said. "I'm not going to sit there and worry about every newspaper article or everything that flashes up across the screen.

"There's a lot of other issues going on at the moment and I like to make sure that I'm attending to the things that are important.

"In the end it's a results-based business, I suppose, and I don't shy away from that. By the same token, it's a values-based business as well, so you've got to be doing the right things on and off the field."