Cheika’s bold plan to double NRL’s Lebanese contingent
As former Wallaby coach Michael Cheika dips his toe into the rugby league world he is starting to feel more and more comfortable.
Cheika was given a front-row seat into the 13-man game last year as part of the Sydney Roosters coaching staff. While he has scaled back his commitments with the club this year he has stepped up his involvement in the game after being announced as Lebanon coach.
He will lead the Cedars if this year's world cup goes ahead and Cheika is immersing himself in every aspect of rugby league as he keeps the door ajar about a permanent code switch.
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"If I can do a good job in the World Cup then see what happens," Cheika told The Saturday Telegraph.
"The opportunity to crossover codes and the challenge of doing it (is exciting). There are so many things involved technically but head coaching is about getting people together for a common goal. A lot of the skills are the same.
"I'll back myself to do anything. You have to be realistic. To (become a rugby league coach) I need to learn. I have a certain set of skills I can bring. Last year, thanks to the Roosters last year and some of this year, I've been able to get a bit of an education in the finer details. I'll never be an absolute technician in this game but obviously, but I'll always be able to have a people who are next to me.
"I look at it much differently now I've been involved in the team. I've had the game-plan experience and seeing what's worked and how it's done. I'm much more enlightened."
Cheika headlined a fundraising event for Lebanon's World Cup campaign on Friday afternoon. He was joined by ex-Cedars Robbie Farah and Tim Mannah plus Wests Tigers five-eighth Adam Doueihi. Ex-Wallaby David Campese was among the guests as Cheika revealed how hands on he had become with the Lebanon team.
"I'm spending more time on it than rugby at the moment definitely," Cheika said.
"I'm taking the time to get around to all the players individually and even the kids who are playing SG Ball Jersey Flegg, Sydney Shield, NSW and Queensland Cup - not just the NRL players because they will be sweet.
"We will have a camp day every month just talking about our defence and being more technical. We have already talked about our goals and what's happening. Hopefully we'll have some matches in the international window in June.
"I want to be involved in this for the next four years - maybe not as coach. To give resources to young Lebanese players so by the time of the next World Cup comes we might have eight or nine NRL players instead of four."
Cheika is also working one-on-one with some of the rising Lebanese stars. He has also called upon former Lebanon coach Brad Fittler - who also attended the function - as a sounding board.
"I talk to him about what he did and he is an experienced coach and get a handle on ideas," Cheika said.
Originally published as Cheika's bold plan to double NRL's Lebanese contingent