The wheels are in motion to find Cheika's successor
NEWS: The wheels are in motion to find a successor for coach Michael Cheika if the Wallabies do not win the Rugby World Cup later this year.
Contracted through to the tournament, Cheika said last year he would walk away should Australia not hold aloft the Webb Ellis Cup in Tokyo on November 2, believing that anything else would represent a lack of progress after they made the Final in 2015.
The Wallabies’ stocks have plummeted since then, last year losing nine of their 13 Tests – their worst season since 1958 – including a 0-3 Bledisloe Cup sweep by the All Blacks and defeats to Wales and England on the year-ending overseas tour.
New Zealand have already laid out the process for a replacement for their outgoing coach Steve Hansen, who will step down after the rugby showpiece.
His assistant Ian Foster and triumphant Crusaders Super Rugby coach Scott Robertson are already pencilled in for December interviews.
Rugby Australia director Scott Johnson said the feelers were out for suitable candidates should Cheika leave the role or his contract wasn’t renewed after the tournament.
He said he couldn’t speak for Cheika’s post World Cup intentions.
“We’re doing our due diligence. It’s not like we’re sitting back and doing nothing,” Johnson said ahead of the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship clash with South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.
“We’re understanding that we’ve got a process.”
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After holding coaching roles with the Wales and Scotland national sides, Johnson said it would be “hypocritical” of him to insist the next Wallabies coach be Australian.
Former Chiefs coach Kiwi Dave Rennie has been linked to the post, although he is signed with current club Glasgow until mid 2020.
“I think we’re after quality,” Johnson said.
“I don’t put a nationality next to the next person. It would be nice to have Australians in place but they have to be quality and that is what we’ve got spend some time doing.
“There’s everyone in the frame that’s coaching around the world and we’re trying to find someone that suits.”
Rennie was also believed to be in the sights of the Waratahs following the departure of Daryl Gibson.
Johnson said RA were involved in the appointment of the new Waratahs coach.
“The beauty of it is we’re getting a more aligned system here and whilst it’s a Waratahs pick we certainly are being involved in the process.”
Meanwhile, RA haven’t closed the door on luring back the likes of Will Skelton for the World Cup, despite the lock signing a new Saracens deal.
But Skelton would have to commit to Australian rugby.
“There is ongoing discussions with a few players, we’re not just talking about for World Cup,” Johnson said.
“Will’s not unlike some others – Australian players will be discussed often to see what’s in the best interest of our Wallabies or pro teams.
“We’re trying to pick anyone who we think can contribute to our program that commits to our program, that’s what we’ll pick.”
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