Review looms but World Cup planning well underway: Cheika

Sun, 25/11/2018, 08:02 am
Beth Newman
by Beth Newman
The Wallabies are already well into their planning for 2019. Photo: Getty Images
The Wallabies are already well into their planning for 2019. Photo: Getty Images

The Wallabies are well into Rugby World Cup planning and things will ramp up as soon as coach Michael Cheika arrives home.

Australia’s team and staff will stay in London until Tuesday this week to unpack the tour just gone before a national camp in preseason truly kicks off the World Cup preparations.

Cheika told Fairfax Media this week the Wallabies were working on a potential return to the USA ahead of the global tournament but there are plenty of other discussions that need to take place on a national level before that as well.

The national coach told reporters post-match that he and Rugby Australia were well into the plans for 2019 already.

“I’ve already spoken to them (Rugby Australia) about planning for the World Cup,” he said.

“All our planning around how we’re going to run the 12-month plan for players, work with Super Rugby teams, that’s already been presented and shown, so we’ve been well ahead of that.”

Conversations around managing player workloads will be critical after a wider agreement from the four Super Rugby franchises that they would be open to resting players.

Cheika said the details were still yet to be completely nailed down in that respect but it was unlikely to be as black and white as the New Zealand system which has in the past mandated All Blacks players be sat out of Super Rugby for a certain number of games.

“Once I finalise the exact details I’ll be going to see all the Super Rugby coaches the week I get back, and we’ll finalise exact details on planning and we’ll announce what’s happening, because the first things will be happening in January for most players,” he said.

“No it will be our own version of what we think will be best for us, we’ve got a slightly different system to New Zealand in relation to the relationship with the state teams.

“So it’s not as cut and dried as last time, a lot of it is relationship-building at this point as opposed to enforcing contracts or deals.”

The post-season review will be a critical one for the Wallabies after a 4-9 return in 2018 but Cheika was initially surprised when it was put to him that Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle had spoken of a review with the organisation and Cheika.

“You’d have to talk to her about those things because as far as I am concerned,” he said.

“The planning of what I do in relation to the team and staff at all levels is with an eye to what is going to give the best outcome.

“Sometimes you’ve got to review, you’ve got to look back and you’ve got to see what is working, what is not working and what can I do differently. I will be doing that.

“That is why from myself before anyone reviews me as well – and I’m sure there would be if that is what she is saying – I will be looking at that first.

“My goal is to make sure that we are producing the best quality rugby we can on a consistent basis.”

Cheika said he had a group of roughly 48 players in his sights as an initial squad heading into the World Cup, a number that will be well whittled down by September.

"There’s a fair few players that aren’t here that will definitely be involved," he said.

"We’ve got our eye on about 48 players at this point that we’ll have a look at around planning over the whole season.

"We’ll look to have some type of say in about 48 at different levels. Guys who we think are going to be in the World Cup squad and other guys who are competition for other players at different levels."

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