Cheika leaves Forrest meeting with positivity

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes Andrew Forrest wants to help improve rugby in Australia, but says that can only come if he works with the ARU.

Cheika and Forrest met in Perth last week, ahead of the mining magnate unveiling his plans for an Indo Pacific Rugby Championship (IPRC), and said he left with positivity.

“The one thing I walked away from that meeting (thinking) is that's a guy who genuinely wants to try and make rugby better in Australia and he's obviously got resources and he feels that if he can put those resources to improve rugby in the country, then that's a bonus,” he said.

“Now, it's a question of anything like that has to be done in collaboration to have that effect.

“I didn't get a lot of details on the other stuff and that's for other people to work out, it's not even my place.

“He was very keen to let me know that he wants, he's fought the hard fight for the Force and whatever happens from now on, he also wants, not only for them, but also to make Australian rugby stronger.

“That's what we want, we want to try and have those types of people with us.”

The sticking point still remains in whether players will remain eligible for the Wallabies if they play in the IPRC, an element Cheika said he could not yet determine with few specifics on the competition.

“I couldn't answer you right now because there's no solid detail,” he said.

“The way this works best is in collaboration with the union, all together, and making the game better, more eyeballs on the game, more fans' interest, more resources for the game to increase its exposure and that's what we want, increased exposure in the game.

“Having strong club rugby roots myself, you could feel that's the area, from junior and club rugby to the top, it needs to be directly connected, aspirationally and logistically.

“Everything in the middle is included.

“There has been a fall there but it can also be a great opportunity for us to start from here, look at reunifying the game and building it to be stronger.”

The ARU said earlier this week it was continuing its discussions with Forrest, but is yet to put its endorsement to the proposed league.