Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika arrives back in Sydney following the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England. Picture: Brett Costello
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika arrives back in Sydney following the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England. Picture: Brett Costello

Cheika must be prepared to absorb review jabs

Former Wallabies duo Nathan Sharpe and Pat Howard will quiz Michael Cheika on the flaws of the Rugby World Cup campaign - if the departed coach gives them the chance.

 

Cheika may have fallen on his own sword after last month's quarter-final exit but he has still been invited to contribute to the extensive review of the Wallabies program.

 

The big difference is he'll be taking the jabs on the end of questions from the three-man review panel, announced on Wednesday, not giving them as the boss.

 

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Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika arrives back in Sydney following the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England. Picture: Brett Costello
Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika arrives back in Sydney following the World Cup quarter-final defeat to England. Picture: Brett Costello

Howard, Sharpe - the former 116-Test lock - and four-time Olympic rower Bo Hanson, a high-performance expert, make up an experienced review panel.

 

Cheika is employed by Rugby Australia until December 31 so his unvarnished view of where the Wallabies and their high-performance environment must improve is valuable.

 

The panel has the potential to shake things up because RA said "all elements of the Wallabies program and the World Cup 2019 campaign" would be under the microscope.

 

Coaching, planning, athletic performance, campaign preparation such as the value of the team's pre-Cup camp in New Caledonia, team cohesion and selection processes will all be scrutinised.

 

Skipper Michael Hooper and the entire World Cup squad will be interviewed.

 

Howard served seven years as General Manager of Team Performance at Cricket Australia when Michael Clarke and Steve Smith were captains.

He ushered in strict workloads for fast bowlers in the nets so he will not be afraid of big recommendations for rugby - a code he knows far better as an ex-player and coach at the top level for 15 years.

 

He is also a former Australian Rugby Union high-performance chief.

 

RA's director of rugby Scott Johnson will work alongside the panel during the review over the next month.

 

The season review will not recommend a new head coach but will search for clues on why the old one could win just two of six Tests against Tier One rivals this year.

 

That process of searching for a coach will run concurrently.

 

Both will be completed before Wallabies fans start cooking their Christmas turkey.

Captain Michael Hooper and the entire Wallabies squad will be interviewed. Picture: Getty Images
Captain Michael Hooper and the entire Wallabies squad will be interviewed. Picture: Getty Images

"Having these three individuals leading the process will provide a well-rounded perspective on the Wallabies program and enable us to take forward any key learnings into the major tournament preparations of all of our national teams over the next four-year cycle," RA chief executive Raelene Castle said.

 

A less obvious part of the review will be assessing the changes to RA's high-performance structure during the past 12 months.

 

The more integrated high-performance plan across national and Super Rugby programs can still be improved while the recruiting and retaining of Australia's best young talent needs to step up again next year.

 

The success of the Junior Wallabies and the Australian Schools and Under-18s team in beating Kiwi teams was a big positive that owed plenty to improvements in talent management.

 

"Significant expertise and experience from both within and outside the sport, and from both an on and off-field perspective, will be harnessed by the review panel," Castle said.

News Corp Australia


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