Aussie rugby coach Cheika ad­mits to get­ting it wrong

Kuwait Times - - SPORTS -

Aus­tralian rugby coach Michael Cheika ad­mit­ted to AFP in an in­ter­view he had to re­set to zero af­ter some dis­ap­point­ing re­sults ear­lier in the year.

The 49-year-old-the 2015 World Coach of the Year af­ter turn­ing round the for­tunes of a de­mor­alised Wal­la­bies squad and within a year guid­ing them to the World Cup fi­nal-said he had pressed on re­lent­lessly with his project for the team with­out tak­ing into ac­count the new faces com­ing into the set-up. Sub­se­quently the Wal­la­bies suf­fered a his­toric 3-0 home white­wash se­ries de­feat to Eng­land-coached by Cheika’s for­mer Rand­wick team-mate and ex Aus­tralia han­dler Ed­die Jones-and three losses to bit­ter ri­vals New Zealand. When asked whether his ‘young guns’-who had re­placed the ‘Wild Bunch’ vet­er­ans such as Matt Giteau and Adam Ash­ley-Cooper-had taken time to as­sim­i­late into the set-up and his ideas for hav­ing a strong Wal­la­bies side based on iden­tity he was typ­i­cally forthright. “Maybe I didn’t get it 100% right at the start of the year,” he told AFP at the Wal­la­bies Dublin ho­tel as the side pre­pare for a crunch match against Ire­land on Satur­day.

“When the new guys started com­ing in from a men­tal per­spec­tive maybe I tried to con­tinue on and didn’t un­der­stand that maybe they and the other play­ers who had gone back to their Su­per Rugby sides had to be ei­ther re­minded of the project or in­tro­duced to it for the first time. “We needed to go back to zero and the play­ers told who we are and how we rep­re­sent Aus­tralia and buy into the project again.” Cheika, who is two wins away from em­u­lat­ing the 1984 Wal­la­bies and achiev­ing a Grand Slam over the Home Na­tions, ad­mits do­ing that has turned round their for­tunes. “Maybe I went on ahead with too many dif­fer­ent themes and tried to evolve those as op­posed to un­der­stand­ing there were a lot of new guys and it was best to restart from zero and re­build.

“We did that and we be­gan to feel a lot more com­fort­able.” Cheika, who is the only coach to win both the North­ern Hemi­sphere and South­ern Hemi­sphere con­ti­nen­tal club com­pe­ti­tions, says that his fo­cus on es­tab­lish­ing an iden­tity for the team goes back to his days at fashionable Syd­ney club Rand­wick where he was a ro­bust and fear­less No 8. “I think def­i­nitely iden­tity has been part of my own ethos,” he said. “The club who brought me up and played for re­ally taught me on that. “For me when you’re in the Aussie team you are in a po­si­tion to in­spire young kids and peo­ple to sup­port us and also take up play­ing the game. “The only chance they get to re­late to us is when we play on the day and the bond can only be strong if they see we play with pride for the shirt and its some­thing sup­port­ers can con­nect with back home.” Cheika, who had an un­con­ven­tional back­ground for a na­tional coach af­ter mak­ing a suc­cess­ful ca­reer in the fash­ion in­dus­try, ad­mits his char­ac­ter even per­plexes him­self.

At times fiery, he is also renowned for his very un­cor­po­rate style of speak­ing “I think I’m still learn­ing about that stuff (his char­ac­ter) and maybe one day I will sit back and work out ex­actly what it is,” he said. “But I en­joy go­ing at all kinds of spec­trums and en­gag­ing with dif­fer­ent peo­ple from all dif­fer­ent classes and so­ci­eties and races. “I en­joy the di­ver­sity in the world and that you get so many op­por­tu­ni­ties out there. “I’ll work it (my char­ac­ter) out one day.”

Michael Cheika

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