Cheika shapes as source of advice for Rennie: Mehrtens

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

New Wallabies coach Dave Rennie will be looking for advice as he prepares for his new role and New Zealand great Andrew Mehrtens thinks he could do worse than seek out Michael Cheika.

Rennie was officially appointed Cheika’s replacement this week and Mehrtens, who worked with Cheika at the Waratahs in 2014, said he would expect the pair to cross paths.

“I reckon he'll catch up with Cheik, I reckon they get on really well,” he said.

“Cheik at the end of the day is a passionate Australian, loves the Wallabies, wants the Wallabies to do well, I have no doubt they'll be getting together somehow to work out what good that can do Dave Rennie of having the background and benefitting from Cheik's experiences over the last four years.”

Cheika wouldn’t be the only valuable source of information for Rennie and Mehrtens said the Glasgow coach would be inquisitive when he came in.

Dave Rennie coached the Chiefs to two consecutive titles in 2012 and 2013. Photo: Getty Images“(Rennie’s) not a guy who comes in and knows everything,” he said.

“I"m a good mate of Cheik's, I don't think he was, I'm not making comparison but I think 'Rens' will come in and he'll make sure he asks questions.

“He'll be talking with (Wallabies captain) Michael Hooper, who’s been a big driver of the Wallabies culture and his leadership role and the other leaders in the team he will make sure - he's thorough and he wants them to do well and he'll bring his own style but part of modern rugby is the team very much driving their processes and he knows that his role is there as a facilitator to create that environment for him to do so.”

While Rennie’s appointment has received plenty of positive reactions from the Australian public, that he is a New Zealander coaching an Australian team is a talking point that hasn’t gone away.

Rennie has pledged his commitment to winning over Australian fans by immersing himself in Australian rugby and former Wallabies flyhalf Michael Lynagh said the emotion simply had to be taken out of the situation.

“Sport's an emotional thing and people get emotional about, understandably, of course we all wanted an Australian coach coaching an Australian team,” he said.

Foreign-born coaches are nothing new in rugby anymore. Photo: Getty IMages“England wanted an English guy coaching them as well but Eddie's there so I look at it from more of a straightforward.

“If it was a business, they'd put an application out for a leader and people would apply and the best person after interviewing etc after he process gets selected.

“So, you hope that the process has been quite exhaustive and Dave's obviously the best person for the job so get on with it.

“I think once it's done, you've got to take that emotion out and say, 'well, he's the best guy, let's get behind him and hope he does a great job.

“It's like anything else, if he doesn't do a great job he probably should go but let's hope it doesn't get to that but also I'd like to see most of his assistants be young Australian coaches who learn from the experience of being an international coach.”