I’m sure it has not escaped Michael Cheika’s notice that the Waratahs are in trouble and need help. What I’m about to propose may seem strange but it comes from my personal assessment of where the real problem lies.
To be clear, that problem has not been coach Rob Penney.
His apparent track record of success in the past, building successful teams and bringing through talent, suggests that given time and resources the same could be achieved here.
There are some great players in the NSW squad but there’s limited professional experience and a lack of proven leaders on the field to provide stability.
Given that situation, it’s difficult to accept the statement by the Waratahs’ CEO that in five games this season the expectation was that results should miraculously change.
Change starts with identifying the long-term reasons the club has landed where they are and a sustainable rebuild takes time.
Cheika could have a lasting impact on that but maybe the greatest impact would not be as a coach.
The NSW Waratahs AGM is coming up and this presents an opportunity to restructure the voard and therefore the leadership and reputation of NSW rugby.
I’m proposing that Cheika offers himself forward as candidate for chairman.
He is well connected and respected by the NSW clubs. He has coached the Waratahs and knows intimately the strengths and weaknesses of not just the team but the organisation itself. He has clear business experience and any phoenix-like resurrection is going to take sleeves-up, hand-on-the-tiller leadership.
A professional-era rugby leader chairing the board will do more to instantly reset the perceived rugby culture and reputation at the Waratahs than having another ‘professional director’ take the role.
It also seems clear that rapid change in culture and reputation will decide how long it takes for the Tahs to turn themselves around on the field.
Achieving significant board-level change, such that it is led into the next phase by a rugby leader seen as intimately familiar with the needs of the modern, professional game will do more to attract coaching and player talent than anything else I can think of that could be achieved in the next two months.
Cheika won a title with the Waratahs. Would there be any better legacy than leading the restructure that takes the club back to their former glory as a consistent finals contender and homegrown-talent-generating machine.
Am I crazy or could this work?