Cheika calls for more collaboration

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says coaching collaboration might just set a good example for national and state administrations in rugby.

While stopping short of endorsing a centralised model, Cheika said the burgeoning trust he’s built with coaches across the country might start some executive moves to work together, in a sport where tensions and politics can undermine the good of the game.

The tensions across the board are being brutally exposed as the moment as the ARU mulls over which of the Force or the Rebels to axe in 2018, with both clubs threatening legal action over the call.

Cheika has had his own tensions with national bodies before, with a dispute over a medical clearance for Israel Folau when Cheika was Waratahs coach, but those days seem long gone.

Michael Cheika has helped European players come home. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyForty-eight players were part of a Wallabies camp this week, some of whom were playing four days later and pointed to the goodwill of the state coaches in releasing players as a step forward.

“From a technical point of view and also from the strength and conditioning and physio point of view, a lot of good relationships been building there,” he said.

“Doesn't mean it's all perfect and we're all holding hands or anything like that but there's a lot more constructive work going on together .

“The Melbourne coach (Tony McGahan) called me and said you should be taking this other player you haven't taken, because he's been really good and he's been strong in a difficult season and I took him in.

“You think about the pressure he's under and how hard he's doing, he's been copping plenty of grief and yet he's still thinking about us to say I suggest that player, he should be coming in and I really appreciate that."

Cheika said administrations might want to take a leaf out of their book in that respect.

“That's what we're trying to build and it doesn't happen in one night,” he said.

“You've got to keep doing it and have respectful relationships with those coaches and we're hoping that maybe at the next level up...that will start to follow about working together to get the right outcome instead of everyone smashing together.”

Asked to pinpoint the failings of Australia's Super Rugby teams, Cheika said he'd been clear with coaches about areas where he can help but didn't want to air that dirty laundry in public.

"I don't want to judge publicly, because I've been in that situation," he said.

"I also know how quickly it can change. The year we (Leinster) won the European cup there was a game we played in the south of France that we lost, we played pretty average, chaps were calling for my head.

"Sometimes it goes pear-shaped and then not even three months later we were European champions. You've got to believe  in people and believe in what they're going to do.

"Everyone's throwing grenades left, right and centre right now and that's not going to help with rugby here at all."