Wallaby boss Cheika tells England to ‘build from within’
LONDON: Australia coach Michael Cheika suggested England ought to be thinking long-term as well as concentrating on recruiting a new boss after insisting he had no interest in the role as he already had his “dream” job.
Cheika confirmed Monday he had no intention of quitting his current post in order to succeed Stuart Lancaster, who last week paid the price for England becoming the first host nation to bow out of a World Cup during the group stage — where they lost to both Wales and the Wallabies in the so-called ‘pool of death’.
Barely a year after taking charge, Cheika led his native Australia to a World Cup final where they were beaten by New Zealand, with the Wallabies having previously captured this year’s southern hemisphere Rugby Championship title.
Rugby Football Union chief executive Ian Ritchie’s stated aim of having a coach of “proven international experience” to succeed Lancaster would appear to rule out several domestic contenders.
Meanwhile Cheika is the latest in a growing list of overseas candidates, along with compatriot Eddie Jones and the New Zealand trio of Wayne Smith, Warren Gatland and Joe Schmidt, to say he doesn’t want the England job, with only former South Africa World Cup-winning boss Jake White publicly announcing his interest thus far. Cheika said there was more to coaching a Test side than immediate success. “As the head coach, your role is to do well now but it’s also to plant the seeds that someone else is going to benefit from further down the track,” he explained.
“I know that sounds like utopia but I believe that when you work that way, plan that way, you’ll get benefits in the short term as well. “I’m no one to be giving anyone advice. I’m nobody. I just think you’ve got to build something from within,” Cheika added, before citing the likes of Gatland (Wales) and Schmidt (Ireland) as examples of overseas coaches who had enjoyed success in Test rugby.
“That’s what we want to try to do in Australia: breed the next crop of coaches, whether it’s the boys who are coaching with me now, Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey, or those guys who are going to come through next.”
Ritchie has promised the RFU, England’s governing body and the wealthiest of all the major unions, will spare no expense in their search for a new coach. Asked if that would help, Cheika jokingly replied: “Well, it will help the bloke you throw money at.
“No, it’s about getting the right person that fits that team and those people.”
Reflecting on the World Cup, Cheika added he had endured mixed emotions on his return to Australia. “It was hard for us because we were still carrying the scars of losing the final. We had two objectives on our trip over here-to get people in Australia enjoying rugby again and not just for that tournament. “I was really humbled by the reaction of a lot of people back there, which we’re not used to because it’s not the most popular sport in Australia. “So we’re not used to people coming up to us in the street and saying, ‘Congratulations’.
‘You feel a bit guilty taking that, because we didn’t win. It’s a bit paradoxical but what do you do? I really liked the fact that people really enjoyed it back at home. That was really rewarding for us.”
Cheika is briefly back in London to coach the Barbarians for their match on Tuesday with Gloucester and Saturday’s non-cap international against Argentina at Twickenham, with the fixtures forming part of the invitational side’s 125th anniversary celebrations.
He said a key attraction was working with the likes of New Zealand’s World Cupwinning wing Nehe Milner Skudder and Springbok lock Lodewyk de Jager, not against them. “It is still such a great concept, to be involved with guys who are your enemies really,” said Cheika. “In return we have to go out and play really good rugby to make sure that the next group of guys who come to play for the Barbarians are really revved cos this group of guys played really well.” — AFP