Cheika: I should have left Wallaby job earlier

Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)
Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)

With the benefit of hindsight, Michael Cheika regrets having held on to the position of Wallabies head coach as long as he did.

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In an interview with The Times, Cheika said the appointment of Scott Johnson as director of Rugby in December 2018 should have been a “cue” for him to walk away.

“In a footy team there can only be one boss, that’s all there is to it,” said Cheika.

“I should have left because that shows they didn’t trust me anymore. But I loved Australian rugby and I thought I could do it, I believed I could get the players together and I didn’t want to let the players and the supporters down.

“I compromised myself in that way. In reflection, that’s a lot easier to assess.

“I tried to manage it the best way I could without being out of order.

“If you cause turbulence at that point, everyone feels it and I didn’t need everyone to feel the turbulence in the team. You have to deal with it internally. Apart from the one day when we left Japan, I never spoke about it publicly.

“If I looked at it again, when those things happened, that should have been my cue to say, ‘This is not happening’. I understand where I sit, I have people I have to report to, and if they [the Rugby Australia management] choose that then I have to make decisions accordingly.”

Cheika’s position appeared to be under threat at the end of 2018 before Johnson was appointed but then attack coach Stephen Larkham was ultimately the only member of the Wallabies coaching team to move on ahead of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

Cheika resigned as Wallabies coach the day after Australia’s quarter-final exit from the World Cup and in his departing press conference said he had next to no relationship with the chairman Cameron Clyne and CEO Raelene Castle, both of whom have resigned in 2020.

Currently working as a coaching consultant with the NRL’s Roosters, Cheika revealed that he still felt like he still had a desire to take up the clipboard again.

“I have definitely still got inside me the ambition for coaching,” he said.

“The one thing I love doing is footy. It is never a job, it’s a passion. I really think that in the right environment I can really thrive. In Australia, it worked for the first part, not the second.

“I’ve always felt that I couldn’t ever go back and coach against a team I’ve already coached. I feel that’s almost being a traitor; I know this is probably not very cool or modern day professional. But that’s been in my mind with a couple of conversations I’ve had in France.”

- TEAMtalk media

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