Michael Cheika’s time is running out

wre01 Roar Guru

By wre01, wre01 is a Roar Guru

 , ,

183 Have your say

Popular article! 5,288 reads

    Michael Cheika is running out of time and good will.


    Australian Rugby supporters, exhausted from being kicked from pillar to post by their own administrators, need a head coach and national team they can believe in.

    Winning is a part of restoring that belief. Being competitive is fundamental.

    But most important is that the Wallaby set up can’t be seen as hypocritical, out of touch and ‘above the law’.

    This is especially the case given the unsavoury circumstances that saw Ewen McKenzie resign from his role and Cheika take it over.

    Since then Cheika has often talked, and then talked some more about taking ownership of problems, learning from mistakes and being accountable.

    In fact, we hear a heap of clichés and mood music from Cheika but as the saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

    How accountable was Nathan Grey for the woeful Waratahs defence this year? So accountable that it appears to have earnt him a promotion to full-time defence coach of the national side.

    Indeed, how accountable are the Waratahs for finishing second last in the Australian Conference? So accountable that they contributed the most players to the Wallaby squad out of any franchise.

    What makes that even more bizarre is that we are led to believe that all of the squad, except for poor old Kane Douglas, were selected on form.

    To this day, I do not see how it can be that Jack Dempsey, Ned Hanigan and Tom Robertson are anywhere near the Wallaby squad. Putting aside potential which is debateable, their form is not there for either the Wallabies or the Waratahs.

    Making Michael Hooper captain is perhaps more astonishing.

    Michael Hooper Wallabies Australia Rugby Union 2017

    (AAP Image/David Moir)

    Liam Gill must be sitting in France shaking his head. It undoubtedly helped make Sean McMahon’s decision to leave for Japan easier.

    David Pocock, by far the best 7 Australia has got, is probably wondering whether it’s worth coming home from Cambridge to play out of position again at No.8 at the Rugby World Cup.

    Not only is Pocock a genuine threat over the ball but he is also articulate, principled and a leader on and off the field. Something Australian Rugby needs desperately right now.

    When you think of names like Eales, Smit, Johnson and McCaw, mentioning Pocock alongside them doesn’t seem like much of a stretch.

    Hooper failed to provide any real leadership during the Ewen McKenzie fiasco. Enough said on that.

    As the Waratahs transitioned to a new coach one has to wonder where Michael Hooper and the leadership group disappeared to on the run to finishing 16th in the overall Super Rugby Standings.

    For a team as talented on paper as the Waratahs that is simply inexcusable. Even the Cheetahs and Kings, consigned to the dust bin of Super Rugby history, finished above them.

    Hooper has some admirable qualities such as his huge motor and defensive abilities. He could be a superb ‘super sub’. But his leadership hasn’t exactly flourished and he should not be starting as captain or otherwise.

    Let’s be clear. The Waratahs recent failures are not all Michael Hooper’s or Nathan Grey’s for that matter. However, both played integral roles in that set up yet seem to have been rewarded with promotions on the national stage.

    How exactly does this sit with learning from mistakes, accountability and selection on form?

    Michael Cheika Australia Rugby Union Wallabies Bledisloe Cup Rugby Championship Test Rugby 2016

    (AAP Image/SNPA, Ross Setford)

    Team ‘identity’ is also something Cheika likes to harp on about. As far as I can tell the idea being that if the team has a clear ‘identity’ then it will be easier to connect with the public.

    So let’s put aside team selections, captaincy and back room staff for a moment and talk about the relationship between judgement and ‘identity’.

    What message does rushing Beale back into the set up send about ‘identity’? Not a very good one as the Aussie rugby public, particularly the die hards who follow the game through thick and thin have long memories.

    Would Beale be getting his third chance with the All Blacks? I doubt it. Their famous personnel policies excluding individuals of irritating character simply wouldn’t allow it. The All Blacks don’t just talk about identity.

    Equally concerning is that the Wallabies’ playing style has even less sign of an obvious identity or style on the field than the team does off it.

    The performances against Scotland and Italy were absolutely atrocious. Chickens. Heads. Cut off.

    There was no sign at all that the Wallabies took their defeat from Scotland and learned from it. If they’d played Scotland again instead of Italy, they would have lost.

    Right now Cheika has some credits in the bank from the amazing run at the last World Cup in 2015. But two years on those credits are ever diminishing and I would say running pretty low.

    I suspect I am not alone in identifying hypocrisies, inconsistencies and failures in approach committed by Michael Cheika. I also doubt that I am the only one questioning whether he is learning from his mistakes and following his own advice.

    Now is the time for less talk and more action from the national coach.

    Getting hassled by a parent or partner about spending too much time playing video games? Now, you can tell them the story of how some ordinary gamers scored $225k for just seven weeks of work.

    Have Your Say

    If not logged in, please enter your name and email before submitting your comment. Please review our comments policy before posting on the Roar.

    Oldest | Newest | Most Recent

    The Crowd Says (183)

    • August 11th 2017 @ 7:28am
      Jimbo81 said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:28am | ! Report

      Totally agree and would add Folau and Foley in the mix for “what are you doing?” Honours

      • August 11th 2017 @ 10:32am
        mania said | August 11th 2017 @ 10:32am | ! Report

        agree jimbo.
        WRE01 this is an awesome article and i agree with everything your saying BUT theres no one else to coach. theres no one in aus that has the level of understanding of the game and players that cheika does. i cant think of anyone outside of aus that can do it.
        the only person who i think can do it and deserves a shot is link. but theres been radioSilence since beale and hooper screwed him over during his tenure.
        no foreign coach would dare handle the poisoned chalice that the WBs are after what was done to Deans, who consistently kept WBs #2nd in the worldRankings.

        cheika imo is an awesome coach. but my opinion doesnt matter. what matters is cheika is the only choice u guys have.
        bite the bullet buddy. theres no calvary on the horizon to get you outta this one.

        • August 11th 2017 @ 6:14pm
          wre01 said | August 11th 2017 @ 6:14pm | ! Report

          Thanks Mania
          To be clear for some of the others, it wasn’t designed as ‘Waratah’s Bashing’ nor was it trying to perpetuate the campaign against Hooper’s captaincy. I think Sydney has produced the majority of Wallaby coaches because they were the best available (Jones, McKenzie, Cheika). I also think Hooper is a wonderful player not deserving of the grief he cops, he just isn’t the best 7 we have (I think he’s behind Pocock and Gill).
          My BIG issue is that I think Cheika has been hypocritical and shown poor judgement on a host of matters. He undoubtedly thinks he has until after the RWC regardless of performance. My view is that the ARU should be firing a few warning shots. There are other options- maybe it is nearing the time that we let White, Ackerman or even Wessels apply…

          • August 11th 2017 @ 8:32pm
            Boomeranga said | August 11th 2017 @ 8:32pm | ! Report

            Nah, the article you wrote was a bash on the Waratahs. If that wasn’t the intention, why not:

            1) examine the squad picked in greater detail – there are poor selections from other teams – or
            2) look at the difference in selections from Deans to Link to Cheika which show a pattern of coaches having favourites while searching for the silver bullet and failing, or
            3) examine the fact all the Aussie teams were absolute shirt this year. Terrible. Hideous. Pathetic.

            You hammered the Waratahs, which is fine, but your team is still sh:t, and your players aren’t deserving of a wallabies jumper either.

            Ps: Gill could have stayed and fought for a chance like a young bloke should have if they wanted to play for Australia, but he he took the money and ran and now people make excuses for that. He’s 24 and when came on for Australia he wasn’t that good.

            • August 12th 2017 @ 7:55am
              Ruckin' Oaf said | August 12th 2017 @ 7:55am | ! Report

              Why should Gill have stayed ?

              IF he had and was the best number 7 in the country by a mile why do you think it would make any difference to selection ?

      • August 11th 2017 @ 1:21pm
        Simple Simon said | August 11th 2017 @ 1:21pm | ! Report

        This article is utter dribble. Having read it, I do note that you criticised probably the Tah’s best players and Beale, who until his departure was really coming of age. The Link/Patson garbage was ugly and unfortunate, but it is also a reasonable period of time ago. Time to move on.

        Having criticised the selection of various Tahs players (and Jimbo – you comedically added Folau and Foley “to the mix”), who would you select instead? All of those players named in this article are young and will grow. If you nominate players like T Smith or P Cowan as a substitute for Robertson you literally have no idea. Cowan is 31, and despite having a reasonable season, was not a standout. Same for Smith, only less form and leaving for NZ. I acknowledge Props take time to mature, but there is no notable difference between picking Robertson and Cowan (or Smith) and your anti-tag bias is just smelly. There are players like R Haylett Petty who are unlucky and miss for Hanigan, who is raw but does not warrant a place, but he was not our worst in June. Worth noting there are a number of unproven, raw QLD players selected (think A Korzyck) though you must have missed that. Worth a reminder. I shuddered when I watched E Nabuli play against Scotland. He shouldn’t be within a bull’s roar of an international rugby side (that said, either should Horne).

        My main point – this is just a Tah bashing (and they were appalling this season though the win/loss column for the other Aus sides is hardly any better, so that should be factored into any discussion). I have had more than enough to say about how the Tahs are coached (or appear to not be coached) though the squad is relatively sound despite a powder puff tight 5.

        Moving forward, my concerns are:
        – our basic skills (our passing is simply subdistrict level)
        – the robotic nature of our play
        – the decline of our scrum (again)
        – very ordinary basics such as kick/chase, backing up the ball carrier etc
        – our inability to think and play what is in front of us (this irritates the most)

        All of the above are matters the coaches are accountable for, and I expect to improve as the side gels more.

        • August 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm
          Crash Ball2 said | August 11th 2017 @ 3:20pm | ! Report

          The coaches are also accountable for deciding who executes those skills SS. As well as the strategy employed to execute them. All three are intrinsically linked. And all are up for scrutiny – particularly on a rugby opinion site. That wre01’s opinion varies (vehemently) from yours, makes him no more a “Tah basher” than you are a “Tah fanboi * “.

          * © Daveski 2017

          • August 12th 2017 @ 10:00pm
            wre01 said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:00pm | ! Report

            Thanks Daveski
            Selection is a huge issue and an area where I think Cheika doesn’t always follow his own advice.
            The fact is that the Waratahs finished 2nd last in the Aussie conference. At times this year, they seemed totally rudderless and almost to give up when the going got tough. Their skills also often let them down. The same could be said for all Aussie sides but the Waratahs were particularly bad (as their final table position showed). I focussed on the Waratahs, not to ‘Tah Bash’ but because of that.

      • August 11th 2017 @ 3:56pm
        Noodles said | August 11th 2017 @ 3:56pm | ! Report

        We all want to see a winning Wallabies team. Sad fact is that we don’t have the players. Certainly not the players NZ have. What really counts here is what makes a difference and I’d argue that the core problem is that the ARU and provinces have allowed money to shape the game. At the grass roots, right down to local comps, there are clubs buying players. In my home town in NSW there is a once great club (had Hipwell and Horton and others) that today runs only a first grade side, has no juniors and has a parade of young islanders rolling up on Saturday with their boots to see if there’s a quid on offer. In the bigger cities we have the Sydney Unis etc. It’s a cancer that has made comps uneven and gutted the spirit of the game. If one or two clubs come to monopolise the best players then you know the others will be drained of life.
        Compare that with the vigour of local park rugby in NZ or the UK or Ireland. Explains much.
        The ARU doesn’t need to give more money to local comps. It needs to toughen up on the fact that its a game. Foster the sport and you might see a bit more spirit and commitment to the higher levels.

    • August 11th 2017 @ 7:41am
      Fin said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:41am | ! Report

      Another day on the Roar another mindless Tah bashing exercise. There is absolutely nothing new in the article. Why did you bother?

      • August 11th 2017 @ 9:15am
        jameswm said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:15am | ! Report

        It’s not a great article. Pocock should be captain – what, by facetime from overseas?

        • August 11th 2017 @ 9:56am
          Bakkies said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          Pocock captain by Face Time would do a better job than Hooper.

          • August 11th 2017 @ 1:00pm
            jameswm said | August 11th 2017 @ 1:00pm | ! Report

            blah blah blah

            • August 11th 2017 @ 6:17pm
              wre01 said | August 11th 2017 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

              Pocock is due back at the end of the year.
              7 is probably the only position in the forwards where we have truly world XV contenders yet we limit our options there now by Hooper being named captain. He is not as good as Pocock and arguably Gill is/ was a better 7 but was forced off shore due to lack of opportunity in the national set up.

              • August 13th 2017 @ 3:28pm
                PiratesRugby said | August 13th 2017 @ 3:28pm | ! Report

                I agree with you wre01. If anything, you’re a little easy on Chieka. His goose was cooked after we got drubbed by England 0-3 at home. Since then, things for the squad have only gotten worse. Pocock and McMahon have found better things to do. Gill, Cooper and Higgers given the flick. Hanigan and Robertson brought in. Grey made full time defence coach. The squad is weaker. The game plan exposed. Since the tour by the English, the performances have been poor, the results bad. And now Hooper is captain. Anyone want have a bet with me about the result of the first test? Or any test??

      • August 11th 2017 @ 9:29am
        Brumby Bill said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:29am | ! Report

        He bothered be cause he deeply wants to see some changes – refer the RUPA side and you’ll see what the voting public are thinking.

      • August 11th 2017 @ 12:03pm
        Perthstayer said | August 11th 2017 @ 12:03pm | ! Report

        Fin- I am Perth based expat. I carry no emotional baggage on any other SR team .

        Over 5 years I have seen the bile spat at the Tahs and often, not always, a high level of paranoia in a Tahs fans reply.

        Wre provides proof to back his arguments, being form and results. Both have been unarguably poor. These were then measured against Cheika’s comments, which is what the articles premise is based upon.

        If stating a point based on tangible facts is bias, then what ammunition must one have to pass comment on the Tahs?

      • August 11th 2017 @ 7:01pm
        wre01 said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:01pm | ! Report

        My intention was not to ‘Tah Bash’.
        I have been a Cheika fan and followed him closely at Leinster. Similarly, I have lots of time for Hooper, the grief he cops for a supposed lack of work ethic/ swanning around out wide is totally unjustified.
        BUT, Cheika (and Hooper) have shown some very poor judgement and hypocrisy over the years. Too much of what Cheika says isn’t followed up by real actions and tangible policy.
        Also, ask yourself this. What other sporting coach in Australia could lose a home series to England 3 nil and still be in a job? Worse, losing to Scotland and being pushed perilously close by Italy at home the next year was unbelievable.
        Cheika has been around 2/3 years now as the national coach and I think the public and media have been far to lenient on him.

    • August 11th 2017 @ 7:44am
      Rebellion said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:44am | ! Report

      Superb article – no arguments here.
      People are absolutely fed up with so-called ‘custodians’ of the game from Sydney who now treat the national side like a privately owned club. At least Neddy Hannigan is not intimidated by the Haka I suppose: http://www.smh.com.au/rugby-union/union-news/bledisloe-cup-wallabies-player-ned-hanigan-not-intimidated-by-all-blacks-haka-20170810-gxt37p.html

      • August 11th 2017 @ 9:28am
        Brumby Bill said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:28am | ! Report

        Totally agree. “hypocrisies, inconsistencies and failures” by Cheika.

        Worse incompetencies from the chosen players. Clearly there’s a them and us when you read the RUPA team vs the East-coast controllers team you get an idea of the utter disrespect for the current Wallaby team and by implication the selectors and their advisors.

        It’s going to be a long and painful winter with losses to both SA and AB and I predict 100 points deficit.

      • August 11th 2017 @ 10:14am
        Frank said | August 11th 2017 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Ugh… Mumm 2.0. Kaino/ Reid/ Cane will not lose sleep over this selection

      • August 11th 2017 @ 4:39pm
        John said | August 11th 2017 @ 4:39pm | ! Report

        Agreed – time for Cheika to move on.
        Hopefully now that the ARU has confirmed the Western Force SR franchise will not be part of the SR competition next year then maybe we will see the senior management including the board of directors at the ARU also moving on.

    • August 11th 2017 @ 7:45am
      Fionn said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:45am | ! Report

      This article is sure to generate some indignant and angry responses, just as sure as it is to generate some positive responses. I think it is a good thing it has been written, however.

      Oe thingI will say is that the team, unfortunately, does seem to have an identity on the field – it seems to be an intent to play Rugby League in a Rugby Union match.

      Cheers for the article, mate.

      • August 11th 2017 @ 2:28pm
        Damo said | August 11th 2017 @ 2:28pm | ! Report

        Yes. Very good article. I’m not so interested in the Tah talk but what continues to do my head in is the approach coach and/or the team took to the 3 test June series. This was the prefect opportunity to build something solid and above all deliver performances that went some way to fixing the mental scars that all of our players took into the series from the appalling SR results. A patient simple and executable game plan built on good defence structures, go forward before you go wide, offloads, serious kick chase, solid exits. This would have seen off Fiji and Italy easily and been too much for Scotland I believe. But what did we see. Frenzied attach, pretty poor set plays, real lack of discipline and such poor base skills across the park. This series of games had no great value other than a role of moving forward a game plan that would show us what needed to happen in the RC.
        But then maybe I really have no idea.

        • August 12th 2017 @ 10:03pm
          wre01 said | August 12th 2017 @ 10:03pm | ! Report

          Damo. Ask yourself this. What coach, in any Aussie sport, could survive a 3nil home series loss against England? Imagine if the Ashes are lost 3-1 or 4-1 or 5nil. The coach, captain and probably key players would all be under severe pressure to quit.
          That is before the loss to Scotland and the ‘almost loss’ to Italy. Cheika has had a soft ride from the media, ARU and public so far.

    • August 11th 2017 @ 7:53am
      Nowaered said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:53am | ! Report

      A great article – the truth always stings in situations like this. Meanwhile, I notice the Wallabies are still talking themselves up in the media – don’t they ever learn – they should zip their mouths, say nothing and take their attitude onto the park. Cannot help thinking that all their talking up will result in another embarrassment for Australian Rugby

      • August 11th 2017 @ 8:27am
        Rebellion said | August 11th 2017 @ 8:27am | ! Report

        Well said

      • August 11th 2017 @ 9:08am
        Wallace footrot said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:08am | ! Report

        Absolutely, whether you win lose or draw, be humble, say little and stop this trash of talking yourselves up pre game. If someone sticks a microphone in front of your gob, keep it real! Just perform on the day. Apparently DHP said this….“We’ve got the attack that can really test the All Blacks, and any team in world rugby.
        “It’s more about putting together 80-minute performances which we didn’t quite do against the All Blacks last year, and probably England.
        “The Lions definitely showed that the key to beating the All Blacks is putting them under pressure, whether it’s in defence or in attack.
        “We’ve learned some lessons from last year and that’s what we plan to do, no matter what part of the game of it is, we’re going to look to put them under a lot of pressure.”
        I am still scratching my head. All blacks and other teams feed off this stuff……but apparently they are training the house down…….well thats a relief! Winning is a sure thing! Just zip it!!

        • August 11th 2017 @ 9:16am
          jameswm said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:16am | ! Report

          DHP isn’t a Waratah though, so how can we criticise him?

          • August 11th 2017 @ 9:19am
            Wallace footrot said | August 11th 2017 @ 9:19am | ! Report

            Ha ha yeh James true but mate I am originally from NSW so I dont care where they come from as long as they just stop this crap of talking themselves up about this that and the other…..it is fair dinkum giving me the s#*ts. Just do it on the day and until then just show some humility and keep it low key.

          • August 11th 2017 @ 10:44am
            bigbaz said | August 11th 2017 @ 10:44am | ! Report

            Mate , he was auditioning for a Tahs spot, may get a callback.

        • August 11th 2017 @ 10:41am
          Fionn said | August 11th 2017 @ 10:41am | ! Report

          ‘We’ve got the attack that can really test the All Blacks, and any team in world rugby’

          This would be the famed attack that, despite all the possession and territory against Scotland, couldn’t break the line. The same famed attack that spent about 60 minutes in England’s 22 last year and was also unable to break the line.

          What rubbish from Haylett-Petty. You can’t talk yourself up until you’ve earned it, and they haven’t earned it.

          • August 11th 2017 @ 12:18pm
            Akari said | August 11th 2017 @ 12:18pm | ! Report

            Was thinking the same, Fionn. Totally agree.

        • August 11th 2017 @ 2:02pm
          Real Wallabies Supporter said | August 11th 2017 @ 2:02pm | ! Report

          I don’t know what you expect a player to say to the press Wallace! What is DHP or any other player supposed to say when he is asked for comment? He will talk up their chances – at least he is being positive. What else is there to put in the papers? There would be very little to say in pre-match articles if he just shut up and said nothing.
          As for the article, it is utter rubbish. Oh well, it’s an opinion I guess. I don’t think it has much in it worthwhile considering as concrete.
          Also, I notice that the Cooper-bashers of old have changed their target by changing a letter in front of the name they love to hate. Maybe you guys could come up with a rhyme using the two names – that would be more worthwhile than the uninformed opinions on our best players.

          • Roar Rookie

            August 11th 2017 @ 2:09pm
            piru said | August 11th 2017 @ 2:09pm | ! Report

            Watch what the All Blacks say

            They almost always talk up their opponents – they’ll mention they’ve been working hard and that they have pride in the jersey.

            They’re professional sportsmen, they should be able to speak to the press without saying anything – there’s a million cliches they could use.

          • Roar Guru

            August 11th 2017 @ 2:32pm
            Atawhai Drive said | August 11th 2017 @ 2:32pm | ! Report

            “Dane! It’s your turn to front the media, mate. Here’s the script. Try to sound as though you mean it.”

            Players are duty-bound to take part in these micro-managed media exercises, just as journalists are duty-bound to report on them, no matter what is said _ or rather, not said.

            No one enjoys the process or the result. But there’s where we’ve got to.

          • August 11th 2017 @ 4:54pm
            Ruckin Oaf said | August 11th 2017 @ 4:54pm | ! Report

            Sun Tzu many years ago said something like “simulated chaos hides order, simulated fear hides courage; simulated weakness hides strength.”

            With that in mind I’d like to see a Wallaby player talk up the All Blacks for a change 🙂 🙂

      • Roar Rookie

        August 11th 2017 @ 11:18am
        piru said | August 11th 2017 @ 11:18am | ! Report

        Agreed, they all need to shut up and worry about their own jobs.

        When has a team ever talked a big game then stormed into NZ and come away victorious?

        Great teams don’t do that

        • Roar Rookie

          August 11th 2017 @ 11:52am
          papagaai said | August 11th 2017 @ 11:52am | ! Report

          Well put.
          The problem with the Wallaby team is that they apparently have 23 in the leadership group…….all making bold predictions in public.

    • Roar Guru

      August 11th 2017 @ 7:59am
      Timbo (L) said | August 11th 2017 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      A pretty good Summation.

      How many more Losses will it take to get sacked from a “Job-for-life”

      How low in the world rankings can we sink before the world cup. We will drop back to 5 if/when we lose to the Boks,

      Scotland and Wales are a little way back, France Argentina and Fiji take us to 10.
      Numericaly impossible to get there but I feel we are playing the same quality of game as the bottom 3.

      • Roar Rookie

        August 11th 2017 @ 8:06pm
        Phantom said | August 11th 2017 @ 8:06pm | ! Report

        To an unbiased kiwi I see the an unsettled set of forwards and lack of a quality 10 as being the 2 issues.

        A pack needs to play together consistently to gel. It seems that settling on what is the wallabies best pack is the issue. A confusion of style and tactics coupled with a lack of real alternatives.

        I am not a fan of hooper and I think he contributes too little in big games. The loose forward team is critical in the contest and I just can’t imaging who will be picked.

        For me foley wouldn’t make any of the super teams in nz. On second thoughts the blues maybe but probably not.

        That is a real issue.

        • August 14th 2017 @ 10:13am
          marto said | August 14th 2017 @ 10:13am | ! Report

          ^^ Opinion null and void as Cooper hasn’t been given a decent run at 10 for 7 years..

          How bad was Beauy Barrett in the BILS series ??..Horrendous!! Onya bike Brew …HAHA

    , ,