Cheika has "absolute" support from Rugby AU board

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has the "absolute" support of the Rugby Australia board through to the 2019 Rugby World Cup, chairman Cameron Clyne says.

Cheika presented to the board on Friday ahead of the team’s Spring Tour after a year in which he and his team have been under significant pressure.

Clyne played down the significance of the meeting, telling media afterwards that their support for Cheika was unequivocal.

“We're supporting him absolutely,” he said.

“You have to be unequivocal, that's the way we've been, quite consistent. We're supporting him absolutely.”

Rather than a grilling, Clyne said the meeting was about asking Cheika what the board could to help set the national team up for success heading into the World Cup.

It's far from the first time Cheika has fronted the board, with the national coach among a number of top Rugby Australia officials who present updates to the board.

"We need to continually work and say how does he see things going, how does Spring Tour go," he said.

"It's really up to him at the end of the day, it's his job to coach the team, it's our job to make sure that we're providing the sort of resources and support he might need."

He was also adamant the board supported Cheika’s current assistants, amid speculation Rugby Australia was considering adding a former Wallaby like George Gregan to the staff as a selector-type figure or that assistants Nathan Grey and Stephen Larkham were in the firing line.

“That's entirely up to Michael,” he said of the Wallabies coaching structure.

“The reality is we support him and we support the structure he's put in place. You've got to allow your coach to pick the team that he's supporting.

“He's obviously indicated he's very comfortable with his coaching structure and we back him with that.”

The Wallabies’ record comeback against Argentina in Salta a fortnight ago seemingly relieved much of the pressure on Cheika, but Clyne said that performance was not a ‘job saver’.

“People are speculating, it certainly wasn't the board's view,” he said.

“The board's view was clearly we were obviously delighted to see that record comeback in Argentina but I think that's a good example - this team has got extraordinary potential, you can see that.

“We have a very tough Rugby Championship (in) which we're playing against some of the best teams you ever play against.

“I think we've seen some really great performances from this team. We had an extraordinary World Cup in 2015.

“The potential's there and that's why we think this is the right team and the right coach to take us through that.”

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks on Saturday October 27 in Tokyo, kicking off at 2:45pm local, 4:45pm AEDT.