Anti-Cheika surge gathers momentum
REACTION: The surge of sentiment to get rid of Michael Cheika as Australian coach is gathering momentum.
Wallabies legend Matt Burke is the latest to tell the Rugby Australia to axe Cheika, along with his coaching staff – after a review was announced into their positions less than a year before the World Cup.
The two-time world champions have won just four Tests this year and slipped to sixth in the world rankings, heaping pressure on Cheika as a sense of turmoil engulfs the national side.
Burke said the Wallabies needed change “from the top down”, calling for Cheika and his assistants, Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey, to go.
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“Michael Cheika after that [season] has to go” Burke, who played 81 Tests for Australia and was a World Cup winner in 1999, told Big Sports Breakfast radio.
“There has to be a change. I don’t think just getting rid of the assistant coaches will be enough,” he added.
Despite success at Leinster and the Waratahs, Cheika has struggled to stamp his authority on a Wallabies side that is replete with world-class players, but has consistently underperformed of late.
“I think they have to change it from the top down. Getting rid of the assistant coaches won’t be enough because it’s still the same voice,” said Burke.
“At the moment it’s untenable when you’re looking at the situation from the coaches and then the high-performance managers and the rest of it.”
Rugby Australia has promised a decision on Cheika and his coaching staff “ahead of Christmas”.
Cheika’s contract is due to run out in a year and he had previously received the backing of Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle to take the Wallabies to the World Cup in Japan.
However, three defeats out of four on their northern hemisphere tour renewed the pressure on Cheika, who took the Wallabies to the last World Cup final in 2015.