Michael Cheika headlines Premiership club’s shortlist after coach’s shock sacking

Colin Newboult
Michael Cheika as Argentina head coach during in 2023.

Michael Cheika as Argentina head coach during in 2023.

Michael Cheika could be set for a return to coaching after being linked to Leicester Tigers as a replacement for Dan McKellar.

The Premiership club surprisingly announced on Saturday that the head honcho had been sacked following a subpar campaign.

McKellar joined the Tigers after much fanfare having been successful at the Brumbies, while he also had a stint in the Wallabies’ backroom team between 2021 and 2023.

Domestic struggles

However, Leicester ended 2023/24 in eighth position after securing nine victories from their 18 matches, with only Gloucester and Newcastle Falcons finishing below them.

“Leicester Tigers can confirm the departure of Dan McKellar from his role as Head Coach with immediate effect,” a club statement read.

“The decision has been mutually agreed following extensive discussions regarding the club’s future direction.

“McKellar joined Tigers in July 2023 from the Wallabies – where he was Assistant Coach for the Australian national side – and oversaw 30 games at Tigers, in all competitions, during the 23/24 campaign.

“The club has commenced the process for finding a new Head Coach to lead the men’s programme into the 24/25 season. Pre-season training for the men’s players not on international duty commences on July 1 at Oval Park.

“We thank Dan for his contribution to Leicester Tigers and wish him, Carla, Amelie and Maya well for the future.”

Rugby Transfers: Springboks back decides future, next SBW targeted by French giants, Hooper extends

Attack coach void

According to the Telegraph, both the board and the senior players did not “buy in” to McKellar’s vision for the club and, as a result, he was relieved of his duties.

That is despite the Tigers confirming their backroom staff for next season, with Peter Hewat recently filling the position of attack coach, which they lacked in 2023/24.

Cheika is reportedly one of the people in the running to replace McKellar having been out of work since leaving Argentina following the Rugby World Cup.

The 57-year-old has a proven track record having led the Wallabies to the Rugby World Cup final in 2015, while he has also been a success at club level with Leinster, Stade Francais and the Waratahs.

He took on the role at Los Pumas in 2022 and guided them to the semi-finals of the global tournament a year later before they were defeated by the All Blacks in the semi-final.

Argentina would then go on to lose the Bronze Final to England, with the Red Rose narrowly emerging 26-23 triumphant in Paris.

READ MORE: Marcus Smith shines as impressive England put 50 past Japan in Tokyo