Cheika turned around Wallaby fortunes
Cheika has unified a once divided dressing room – after utility back Kurtley Beale was suspended over lewd texts he sent to team official Di Patston.
These indirectly led to a split in the dressing room with some players supporting Beale and others Patston.
Inconsistent results added to the tension within the squad – a few months later under the leadership of Cheika they stroll into the World Cup with the Rugby Championship trophy already in the cabinet.
The controversy within the team ended with then coach Ewen McKenzie resigning, and Cheika being drafted in at short notice just before Australia set off on a tour of Europe.
The 48-year-old Cheika – the only coach to have won the major northern and southern hemisphere club trophies, with Leinster and the Waratahs – claiming the European Cup and the Super Rugby titles respectively.
He will be hoping to carry over this success, and create a sense of enjoyment that will carry over into a successful World Cup campaign.
That could prove a challenge as the two-time World Cup winners are drawn in the toughest of this year's pools alongside hosts England, Wales,Fiji and Uruguay.
Fiji, who open their campaign against England on Friday, are first up for Australia in Cardiff on September 23.
"As a coach you make a long-term plan of where you want to be, but you’ve also got to knock off the short-term goals to get the side up and enjoying it as well," said Cheika.
"That’s a big thing.
"The smile had gone off a lot of the faces of the people involved on both sides of the paddock, inside and outside."
Cheika, who has been in charge for just nine Tests since replacing McKenzie, said his first task was to get both players and spectators enthused by the Wallabies' playing style.
"Number one was to enjoy our work again and get people to enjoy watching the game again," said Cheika who is Australia's third coach since the 2011 World Cup.
"When that happens, you’re more likely to do something with better quality," added Cheika.
The Wallabies bid for a record third World Cup, with their two other titles both won on British soil, in England in 1991 and Wales in 1999.
"Sometimes they [the players] want to rip your head off, but all in all we’ve kept ourselves having a good time," he said.
"It’s all part of it – you have to keep yourselves in the true perspective of what you're doing."
Wallaby skipper Stephen Moore, with 96 caps, concurred with his coach.
"Yes, it’s a fine line isn’t it?," said Moore, who has led the side just five times, and is Australia's sixth captain since the last World Cup.
"We had a few races on the field the other day, and one of the boys caught him [Cheika] and he wasn't happy about that.
"He doesn't like getting beat.
"But the enjoyment part is important. You want to do these things at a World Cup – you want to enjoy your time and hopefully do something special along the way."
Source: Agence France-Presse