Toner full of respect for Cheika

Date published: November 20 2014

Ireland lock Devin Toner is relishing the prospect of playing against former coach Michael Cheika’s Wallabies in Dublin on Saturday.

Ireland lock Devin Toner is relishing the prospect of playing against former Leinster coach Michael Cheika’s Wallabies in Dublin on Saturday.

Cheika took over the reins from Ewen McKenzie as the Wallabies’ boss last month but he is also the man who handed Toner his Leinster debut in 2006, during his spell as the Irish province’s head coach from 2005 to 2010.

And Toner’s respect for his former coach has not diminished even though Cheika is plotting the downfall of the Six Nations champions.

“He gave me my debut,” Toner told the Irish Examiner.

“I have a huge amount of respect for him. He’s been a really successful coach, with Leinster, and in Australia as well.

“He really drives on the discipline and everything in the squad. It’s been well documented how he turned Leinster around and got them back on track.

“His character is quite hard edged, but he knows his stuff as well.

“It is just the way he commands respect. One of the massive things is that he drills the discipline in the squad and being disciplined in everything you do, being on time, your dress code.

“These are things brought into a squad and that’s what he does. He commands respect.”

Cheika was tough on his players during his time at Leinster but Toner feels his strong approach has had its benefits.

“If you were late for a meeting or didn’t get your line right or something, you’d get the hairdryer treatment,” added Toner.

“I just sat there and took it. I don’t think it crossed my mind to talk to him. I wouldn’t talk back to him because you know yourself you’re doing something wrong.

“He was doing it for a reason, not just for the sake of it. You are going to learn from it.

“I was coming out of the Academy, I was young, in the development squad, like I’m not going to say lads were scared of him but he’s a coach that demands respect and as a young lad, you’d respect him hugely.

“As a young player, it’s 100% what he had for you, tough love. The first couple of meetings you miss, you get screamed at, but sure I think you adjust pretty quickly when that approach is taken.

“It’s kinda like the same with Joe (Schmidt). Young lads in the squad, they need to know their stuff and if they don’t know it, obviously…”