Argentina head coach Michael Cheika has highlighted improvement at Super Rugby level by Australian teams as the key to the Wallabies’ revival in the international arena and dismissed talks of him replacing Eddie Jones.
Cheika also talked down rumours of him coaching NRL outfit West Tigers and said he wanted to be part of the 2027 Rugby World Cup in Australia in some capacity, although he is currently fully focused on his role with Los Pumas.
Success with Argentina
The South Americans reached the recent Rugby World Cup semi-finals under his guidance but bowed out to the All Blacks. The 56-year-old, who coached Australia between 2014 and 2019, has been named as one of the candidates who could possibly replace Jones as Wallabies coach but, like Robbie Deans, he does not seem interested in a return to the position.
Cheika admitted to being surprised at how poorly Australia fared at the global showpiece in France as they were knocked out ahead of the play-offs for the first time in the tournament’s history and their poor form has led to a Rugby Australia review.
Prior to taking charge of the Wallabies, Cheika coached the Waratahs to a Super Rugby title in 2014 and he believes that is an important stepping stone to being competitive in the Test arena as the Wallabies also reached the 2015 World Cup final – which they lost to the All Blacks – with him as head coach.
He believes Australian rugby officials should focus on Super Rugby improvement before cleaning up the current mess left by the Wallabies.
“From my experiences, coming back to coach the Waratahs in 2013, we won Super Rugby in 2014, then we got to the World Cup final in 2015. I do believe that coaching at Super Rugby level is just as important as who is coaching the Wallabies team,” Cheika told FoxSports.
“That is where the players are being prepared, that’s where it needs so much investment to make sure it’s going well.
“Once your players come to you (as an international coach), you are banking on that work being done of the teams leading in to you. That work, everyone looks at the top end, but the real changes in recent years (are) when we have had good World Cups off the back of Super Rugby teams doing well – the Reds leading into the 2011 World Cup, the ‘Tahs in 2015.”
Expects quick improvement
Despite the Wallabies’ woeful showing in France and the repercussion from it, Cheika believes if officials “have a good plan and good people” things could improve quickly.
“Hopefully, from this they’ll start to get a real understanding of the things that need attention to make the game, not just the Wallabies, get itself back on track. I am sure it will,” he told SEN.
“I know there is a lot of negativity around but it will. Without taking anything for granted, we are getting to a regime of understanding what’s required. Have a good plan and good people around and treat those people well, then things can happen.
“Things can turn around, you have to hold course and have a course to go to. That will be the next step, setting the course going forward.”