Pulver backs Cheika to turn Wallabies around

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

ARU CEO Bill Pulver has backed Michael Cheika to turn the Wallabies’ fortunes around, despite five straight Test losses.

Pulver slapped down suggestions that Cheika was under pressure or that the national team was on notice after a 42-8 opening Bledisloe Test.


The Wallabies coach was re-signed earlier this year, with his contract running through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup and Pulver said that was still the plan.

"Michael Cheika's our coach right through the World Cup and he's a world-class coach,” he said, speaking at the launch of the Buildcorp NRC.

“The elite level of rugby things ebb and flow and that's what we're seeing here.

“Our boys will fight.

Michael Cheika faces his biggest coaching challenge this weekend. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies rode a wave of public goodwill in 2016 and that has been eroded with their results, a sign that Pulver said was most worrying.

“I can't help but think everybody loves a winner, I love a winner,” he said.

“I unashamedly have a whole lot more fun watching Australia win than when I watch them lose and I couldn't help notice with about five minutes to go on Saturday night, quite a few fans leaving the ground.

“That's why it hurts - there is an awful lot of pride that goes into the preparation of these teams and last Saturday night we really did not represent the country well.

“I'm confident this Saturday night we'll do a lot better.”

While he admitted the Wallabies’ performance was well below an acceptable standard, he denied it was because of the 'Giteau Law' impacting the development of players. 

“I think it is a very good policy and I have complete sympathy for Michael Cheika's approach,” he said.

“When you've got young developing players like a Reece Hodge in the centres coming through as part of the Wallaby program - for him to train and be mentored by the likes of Matt Giteau is priceless.

“You are trying to get the balance right between having a strong enough team to win the game and having a development pathway that brings elite talent through.

“I think the policy change was very well placed and I think Michael Cheika is applying it very well.”

The Wallabies leave for New Zealand on Wednesday afternoon, ahead of Saturday's second Bledisloe Test.