Cheika's powers 'curtailed'
SPOTLIGHT: Michael Cheika will survive the axe as Wallaby coach, but his powers will be curtailed.
Media reports in Australia claimed that Scotland-based Scott Johnson will be appointed Director of Rugby above him.
Cheika has faced a mounting backlash from dismayed fans and former players after winning just four of Australia’s 13 Tests this year.
Despite the dire results and a slide to sixth in the world rankings, Rugby Australia chief Raelene Castle has consistently backed him to take the team to the World Cup in Japan next year.
A board meeting of the governing body this week to assess the season, with Cheika in attendance, ended without a decision on his future.
Chairman Cameron Clyne said his fate would be decided “ahead of Christmas”.
“We obviously received a presentation from Michael Cheika and we’re going through a process, so I’m not really in a position to elaborate,” Clyne said.
Watch Rugby Australia chairman Cameron Clyne's full statement to the media about the future of Michael Cheika and his staff.READ: bit.ly/ClyneWallabiesReview
Posted by rugby.com.au on Sunday, 9 December 2018
The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph reported that as a compromise to Cheika staying, Scotland’s Director of Rugby and former Wallabies assistant Johnson will assume a role above him.
It said Rugby Australia secretly met with the Sydney-born Johnson during the Wallabies recent tour of Europe and has been working on a deal to bring him home.
The Telegraph said an announcement would be made confirming the news next week.
Johnson became the Scottish Director of Rugby in 2013 and last worked with Australia at the 2007 World Cup as attack coach under John Connolly.
Rugby Australia told AFP it was unable to comment other than “we haven’t finalised the review process”.
Cheika’s fate has split the rugby world with Wallabies legend Matt Burke this week calling for him and his coaching staff to be sacked, describing his situation was “untenable”.
But at the same time current Wallaby David Pocock threw his full support behind him.
“He’s someone I’ve learned a huge amount off, got a lot of respect for and ultimately there’s probably not a huge amount of value getting players talking about it because it’s a decision for people higher up in the chain,” he said.
Cheika has not made any comments since returning home.
The 51-year-old has been in charge of the Australian national side since 2014, taking over for Ewen McKenzie just one year out from the Rugby World Cup, where he eventually led the side to the final.
Cheika began his coaching career in Italy before returning home to Australia to coach his former club Randwick. He oversaw Leinster in Ireland and Stade Francais in France between 2005 and 2012 before again returning to Australia, winning a Super Rugby title with the New South Wales Waratahs in 2014.
Sources: AFP & Daily Telegraph