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The Wrap: Is this D-day for Michael Cheika or same old, same old?

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9th December, 2018
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Today, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika will meet with Rugby Australia executives for what is a well-publicised and highly anticipated review.

This coincides with the final Rugby Australia board meeting for 2018.

The outcome, and the extent to which these meetings are interlinked, will be revealed later. In the meantime, ‘The Wrap’ has dusted off its crystal ball to provide its own forecast of events.

Raelene Castle (RC): Michael, lovely to see you again. Come on in and make yourself comfortable.

Michael Cheika (MC): Sure. But just letting you know before we start, as is my right, I’ve bought along an advocate.

RC: That’s a bit defensive isn’t it? What makes you think that your job is at risk?

MC: Maybe the text I got from Jake checking the size of my office?

RC: But Michael, that’s not an advocate, that’s a toy golden cat. With a silly wave.

MC: You’ve got your high-performance unit, I’ve got my cat. I think we’re square.

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RC: Michael, a few weeks back I stuck my neck out in public and backed your plan. But do you know what the press are asking me now? They want me to explain what that plan is.

MC: And…?

RC: Either I’m honest and tell them I have no frigging idea, or you explain it to me now.

MC: It’s actually quite simple. From a defensive line-out, on the left side of the field, Nard defends at fullback, unless he’s playing at 12, in which case he slots in on the blind wing, Sefa is up in the front line, usually outside Samu, or else Marika covers that, unless it’s Izzy on the wing, in which case the sauce brother has a roaming commission on the open side, and if Maddocks is on the bench, Kurtley drops back to fullback, but that’s only until Hodgey returns. Toomua, part of his deal to come back was that he defends in the front line, which means that Hoops comes in one from the winger’s channel, once it’s gone beyond first phase.

Matt Toomua

(Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)

RC: Right…

MC: From a scrum, we mix it up a bit, just to keep the opposition guessing.

RC: Right…what about Banks, where does he fit in?

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Cheika looks puzzled.

RC: Tom Banks.

MC: Sorry? Who does he play for?

RC: The Brumbies. On the wing.

MC: Brumbies? Oh, you mean the guy with the high, frizzy hair?

RC: No, that’s Henry Speight.

MC (still puzzled): Oh. Have you got a photo?

RC: Let’s move on to the tour. Where were the three wins?

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MC: Ah, nice try Raelene. That’s your benchmark, not mine. I never said we’d get three wins. Do you think I’m stupid or something?

Cameron Clyne (CC) peers over the top of the ‘Luxury Super-Yacht Monthly’ magazine he’s reading.

CC: I’d rather Raelene didn’t answer that for now, if that’s okay.

RC: So what did we learn from the tour. What about the loss to Wales?

MC: We’ve got a rat in the ranks. Leigh Halfpenny knew exactly where Kurtley was kicking the ball. Every damn time!

Michael Cheika Australia Rugby Union Wallabies 2017

(Photo by Hannah Peters/Getty Images)

RC: And Italy?

MC: Taniela Tupou is a beast. We’ve got a great prospect there.

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RC: What about England?

MC: Tupou’s not such a beast.

RC: But you didn’t pick him, how can he be a beast sitting in the stands?

MC: Exactly. People who say I don’t own up to mistakes have no idea what they’re talking about.

RC: Actually, speaking of which, did you bring that cheque? To refund the $50k we burned buying out Pete Samu’s contract?

MC (hands cheque over): Sorry about that. Nice guy, but he’s no Ned.

RC: The win-loss stats don’t read very well for you, do they, Michael?

MC: Why are you trying to pin that on me? What about the unfair schedule? Who in their right mind would make us play New Zealand, South Africa, Argentina, Ireland, England and Wales in the one year?

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RC: But that’s the game, Michael. That’s who else plays.

MC: That’s not everybody. Lithuania has got a good lineout, but I reckon we’d give them a shake.

RC: What about Fiji? Can you guarantee that we’ll beat them in the World Cup?

MC (laughs): There you go again, setting me up to fail. They were wallowing down in tier two until you bright sparks let them into the NRC. Now look at them. Whose side are you on, admitting new teams and letting them succeed? You could learn a lot from the Shute Shield, you know.

RC: Michael, let’s consider the fanbase. It seems as though rugby supporters everywhere have lost faith in you.

MC: Not true. Here have a look, just this morning I’ve received texts wishing me well, from Ned, Adam two-dads, his sister-in-law, Ned, Baldy from the Gold Coast, another one from Ned, and one from your mate, the Parrot. All the way with ABJ!

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RC (checks the phone): Oh look, there’s one here from Kurtley.

CC (suddenly sparks to life): Whatever you do, don’t open that!

RC: Michael, I need you to look me in the eye and tell me, honestly, are you still the right man to lead us through next year and win the World Cup?

MC: As honest as Israel Folau didn’t pull Dilyn Leyds’ hair, yes I am.

RC: And do you promise to be a better selector?

MC: There are a couple more new, young hookers I’d like to try out, but yes.

RC: And Quade?

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MC: Jeez, you really want your pound of flesh don’t you?

RC: In that case, I’m going to recommend to the board that we…

Castle stops mid-sentence as, suddenly, the room plunges into darkness.

CC: Raelene, I thought I told you to pay the power bill?

RC: Yes, but Hoops cashed his contract cheque, so we’re short.

MC: Is that anything I can help with?

RC: No thanks Michael, you’ve done more than enough already!