Players need to take responsibility for Wallabies woes: Campese

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Test great David Campese says Wallabies players have to take responsibility for some of the team’s woes and thrown his support behind under pressure national coach Michael Cheika.-

Australia finished with their worst win record since 1958 with just four wins from 14 matches this season and speculation has ramped up since last week’s England Test that change is being investigated.

Rugby Australia confirmed on Thursday it cancelled a planned hook-up with former South Africa coach Jake White this week after he expressed interest in discussing the position.

The Wallabies season will undergo an in-depth review in the coming weeks, with Rugby Australia executives to work with Cheika in dissecting the season.

Campese, who has been conducting coaching clinics across the country in conjunction with the Australian Rugby Foundation and Rugby Australia this year, said the coach wasn’t the issue.

"This is the problem. You can't blame a coach. Players play,” he said.

"The coaches give you skills. It's up to the players to go out and play the game.

"There's a lot of talk about coaches, especially, today but why do we panic and look for an overseas coach straight away?

"New Zealand don't, South Africa don't."

Rugby Australia has repeatedly given Cheika its public backing in a difficult year and while Campese said it wouldn’t necessarily be too late to change, he backed Cheika to stay.

“I don’t think it’s too late to change but Cheika’s the coach,” he said.

“He’s been given, a couple of weeks ago by Rugby Australia, that he’s going to be there, and it’s not easy to play every year when you think about it you’re playing the best team in the world straight up twice.

“Then you have South Africa that's not a bad team and we play them six times and then you play new Zealand over in Japan then two weeks later you’re playing Wales, it’s not an easy situation to be in.”

Campese said Cheika’s perceived and self-admitted stubbornness wasn’t necessarily a problem, with his long-time friend open to input and ideas from his assistants.

“Wherever I go in the world, I catch up with Cheik for a cup of coffee. I said I wanted to come over and have a chat, I've got some ideas but he's got assistants, it's very difficult to have someone from the outside pester you,” he said.

“Knowing Cheik and I've been at training sessions, other guys, that's what their jobs are for.

“I think Cheiks tried to be a bit more like a soccer coach where he manages and the other guys do the work.

“I mean you've got Stevie Larkham who's a Test player, you've got guys around who are actually experts in their field.

“He just coaches.”

The Rugby Australia board meets on December 10, and while the organisation’s review set to be done by Christmas at the absolute latest, it is expected that a call on Cheika’s future would be made after that final meeting.