Waratahs coach Michael Cheika is drawing from all his experience with Leinster as his team sit two wins from the Super Rugby title.
Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika is drawing from his experience with Leinster as his team sit two wins from the Super Rugby title.
Cheika guided Leinster to their first Heineken Cup title in 2009 after heartache three years earlier in his first season in charge, when the Irish giants were knocked out by Munster in the semi-final.
Admitting that he was a little green when it came to managing the situation, eight years later Cheika revealed how the experience has shaped his management moving forward.
“When I started with Leinster and we got to the Heineken semi-final in the first year, I didn't have a clue what I was doing,” Cheika told Reuters.
“I'd experienced it as a player but I didn't really know what to do. I definitely think I got that part, that little last week of the season wrong.
“I was just maybe too hyped up and maybe too focused on the wrong things, but I was only young.
“It was my first year as a professional coach. I didn't even really know what the Heineken Cup was, really, let alone being in a semifinal against Munster at Lansdowne Road. It was just a totally different thing.”
The outstanding side in Super Rugby this year, the Waratahs have the advantage of playing their semi-final and potential final at home in Sydney on the back of a strong campaign.
In a side packed with Wallabies all at peak form, there is undeniably plenty of expectation. Cheika though knows that all of the hype around the 'Tahs means nothing come matchday, drawing on his time in Dublin.
“At the end of the day, (the hype) has no net effect as to what happens inside the white lines over 80 minutes,” added Cheika.
“None. So, you just deal with the things as you would any game normally. You understand when kickoff comes, you've got to turn up the volume a bit on the match, not on all the stuff that goes around the match.
“I access the stuff I've learnt (from Leinster). I definitely didn't know that all the time… You're allowed to make a mistake here and there. I think that experience there should help us down the track.”
The Waratahs thrashed the Brumbies 39-8 less than a month ago in Sydney, with Cheika looking to repeat the same all-action style of rugby that has served his side well so far.
“From our point of view we're just going to play our style,” stated Cheika.
“I don't think it needs to be more attritional. I think it will get more physical, that's for sure. I know it's not smart of me to go and talk about strategy but we won't be changing.
“I think it's important to our supporters that we keep playing the same way.”