No more Cheika’s way or the highway

Moreton Bait Roar Pro

By , Moreton Bait is a Roar Pro

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    Michael Cheika is a fine coach with an impeccable record. So is Ewen McKenzie. I am more than happy to place my faith in either to lead my national rugby team.

    However, as the long 2014 rugby season draws to a frustrating and heartbreaking conclusion they have both conspired, with admirable assistance from the ARU, to stuff up the Wallaby chances at the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

    McKenzie seems to have mismanaged off-field and personnel issues, leading to on-field problems and resulting in the most spectacular headline-grabbing drama in Australian rugby history.

    In their panic, ARU had nowhere to turn. After dismissing Deans, appointing another overseas coach was out of the question and so the only person left standing who met the established minimum criteria for Wallabies coach was appointed.

    That criteria? Australian, ex-Randwick, preferably a forward and a winner of a Super Rugby title. Step right up, Michael Cheika.

    It’s probably understandable that, realising he had suddenly found himself in the greatest bargaining position and at shortest odds for the job since Makybe Diva showed her face at Flemington for the third time, he decided to play hard-ball with the ARU.

    It was going to be Micheal Cheika’s way, all the way, or the highway!

    I hold all three responsible for the stuff up that has resulted in the worst EOYT performance for many, many years. And unfortunately it leaves preparations for the Rugby World Cup, which is only about nine months away, in tatters.

    I hope now, after this humbling, and humiliating EOYT experience, both the ARU and Cheika can begin to work together for the betterment of the Wallabies, unify supporters and quell parochial bias, recrimination and suspicion.

    Here are my main concerns
    1. Jim McKay in my opinion is an excellent, thoughtful, experienced and well-qualified coach. He was building and making clear progress with attack patterns which were producing evidence of better performances at international level.

    He was credited with being responsible for taking on most of the preparations for Bledisloe three – the Wallabies best performance of the year. I have not heard any negative comments about him from players.

    Would it not have been sensible to continue with his work through the EOYT before deciding to change attack coaches?

    2. The scrum has performed poorly for a very long time. There seem to be recurring issues with technique. If a coach had to trimmed prior to the EOYT wouldn’t it be logical to consider changes initially in this area?

    3. The dual-role expected of Cheika to coach both the Waratahs and the Wallabies is simply untenable. Too much conflict of interest or at least the potential for the perception of conflicted, and/or prejudicial, decisions. ARU should never have accepted this arrangement when negotiating with Cheika.

    I do believe Cheika is a man of integrity and I hope he can reflect upon this series of lost Test matches.

    Apparently he hates to lose, so this turn of events should motivate him somewhat. He should realise that now is not the time for arrogance or tough bargaining, or even to be head coach of the Waratahs.

    There is a lot of work to be done at the national level. He needs to get a competitive side on the field for the Rugby World Cup and that should be his main priority right now.

    The ARU, if they have any sense, should be alarmed at the standard of play the Wallabies produced in the past three Test matches and move to protect their only money-making asset. Cheika to coach the Wallabies while Daryl Gibson, Nathan Grey or anyone else can coach the Waratahs. The national side must come first.

    Jim McKay should come back to deal with attack (if he’s still interested) and Laurie Fisher to be coaxed back to look after the forwards.

    I believe Cheika can produce a great Wallabies squad but he cannot do it alone, and he cannot do it while coaching both Waratahs and Wallabies.

    It’s time for a little humility, focus, hard work and common sense. The real Cheika qualities?

    No longer time for Cheika’s way, or the highway.

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