Cheika close to Wallabies deal

2014-10-20 14:04
Michael Cheika (Getty Images)

Sydney - Michael Cheika is on the verge of taking charge of the Wallabies after the shock resignation of Ewen McKenzie, with the Super Rugby-winning coach on Monday confirming he was in talks and close to agreement.

McKenzie dropped his bombshell shortly after New Zealand narrowly beat Australia 29-28 in the final Bledisloe Cup Test in Brisbane on Saturday, throwing their upcoming European tour into chaos.

The Australian newspaper, citing an "informed source", said Cheika met Australian Rugby Union chief Bill Pulver on Sunday and again Monday and "had agreed to take the Wallabies job".

Cheika confirmed he had held discussions with ARU officials but stopped short of saying he had accepted an offer.

"It's a pretty humbling experience to be asked to be involved in something like that (the Wallabies' coaching role) but we'll see what happens," he told reporters.

"There's a few things to iron out obviously -- the logistics etc, everything being so close, so we'll see how it goes and work it out from there."

Asked if he was excited about the opportunity, he said: "Who wouldn't be excited in coaching (the Wallabies)?"

Cheika still has a year left on his contract with the NSW Waratahs and local reports said he may combine both jobs.

The ARU had no immediate comment but in a series of tweets on their official Twitter feed the Wallabies said discussions were ongoing.

"The #ARU is still in the process of investigating options to replace Ewen McKenzie, following his resignation last Saturday," it said.

"At this stage, no prospective coaches have been confirmed in the role. We hope to have a solution in place and announced before the team leaves for the Spring Tour on Friday."

Pulver said on Sunday he had a list of options in mind, with urgency surrounding a decision since the squad is due to leave for Europe this week.

As well as Cheika, whose track record includes winning the Heineken Cup with Irish side Leinster and the Waratahs' maiden Super title earlier this year, Springbok World Cup-winning mentor Jake White has also been linked to the job.

Pulver said that if it proved impossible to appoint a new coach in time for the five-match tour against the Barbarians, Wales, France, Ireland and England, an interim coach would be considered.

Wallabies great Stephen Larkham has been touted in local media as a potential interim choice should it prove too hard to get someone on board full-time at such short notice.

McKenzie's unexpected exit added to the turmoil engulfing Australian rugby in the fallout over the Kurtley Beale text scandal.

Beale has been suspended following an in-flight argument with team business manager Di Patston and after claims that he sent offensive text messages about her. Patston, who was appointed by McKenzie, has since quit.

Pulver blamed sections of the media for assassinating McKenzie's character in the extraordinary fallout from the Beale-Patston scandal, but Wallabies great Nick Farr-Jones said Monday Pulver must also accept some responsibility for the mess.

"If Bill had've had it all over again, they would've done... the Beale incident differently. I think they would've settled it offshore, kept it out of the headlines," he said on Channel Nine television.

"The last thing we in rugby -- with football going so well, with rugby league going so well -- the last thing we want on the headlines is intrigue and basically being pulled through the gutters."

Read more on:    wallabies  |  michael cheika  |  rugby

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