Cheika turns to unlikely source for World Cup hope
WORLD CUP COUNTDOWN: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has turned to legendary Australian swimming coach Laurie Lawrence to help inspire Australia to an unlikely third Rugby World Cup title this year.
Without sacked superstar Israel Folau – and possibly no David Pocock to call on either – the Wallabies have drifted to 17-1 long shots to lift the Webb Ellis Cup in Japan.
Desperate times call for desperate measures.
Cheika famously handed every NSW player a golf club and encouraged them to “swing without fear” before the Waratahs’ maiden Super Rugby Final triumph over the mighty Crusaders in 2014.
But his motivation skills are nothing on 77-year-old Lawrence, the former coach who helped plot 10 Olympic gold medals for Australia while mentoring the likes of Steve Holland, Tracey Wickham, Jon Sieben and Duncan Armstrong in the 1970s and 80.
Lawrence continued to work for the AOC in an ambassadorial role into the 21st century and was called on by Cheika to stir the Wallabies during a camp in Brisbane last week.
“It was actually quite nice,” Wallabies prop Tom Robertson said on Tuesday.
“He came in and gave us a bit of a talking to, commented on my [cauliflowered] ear a fair bit so it was good to see Lawrie.
“He’s one of the great coaches – been to six Olympic Games – and I don’t think you go to six Olympic Games without being some sort of coach.
“He had some inspirational words and it was pretty good camp, to be honest.”