Cheika laughs off Rugby Australia CEO's minimum expectations
WORLD CUP SPOTLIGHT: Michael Cheika has laughed off the minimum expectations of his boss that the Wallabies reach the World Cup Final, saying he long ago set his sights higher.
Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle this week said anything other than a berth in the tournament Final would fall short of the organisation’s target and most probably that of the public.
She said the bar had been set by reaching the 2015 decider and expected a similarly successful campaign, starting with Saturday’s Test against Fiji in Sapporo.
“When your previous performance was a World Cup Final, that is everyone’s expectation,” Castle told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We know that and we know fans want to see the Wallabies turn up in the final. That would be amazing.”
Cheika beamed when asked if Castle’s comments put unwanted pressure on him and his team.
The 52-year-old has long indicated he will stand down from his five-year head coach role if the sixth-ranked Wallabies aren’t crowned champions in Japan.
“You know that I’m coming here to win with our team. That’s it,” he said on Thursday.
“I love what I do, I’m prepared to take responsibility and accountability and always have been with everything I do.
“I’m not being judged by anyone except myself.”
Cheika believed he had given his team every chance of going deep into the knockout rounds.
They have emerged from a miserable 2018 in prime shape physically and mentally to perform, he said, having taken no short-cuts during a gruelling build-up period over the last month.
“Wherever the cards fall, I’ll be absolutely proud of my team,” he said.
“They’ve put in so much work so far against a background of often pressure from off the field, not on it, and they’ve stood tall and worked hard through it.
“They’ve copped plenty and they’re ready for the battle.”