Rugby

Brian O'Driscoll gives backing to Michael Cheika

2018-11-30 10:27
Michael Cheika (AFP)

Cape Town - Former Ireland centre Brian O'Driscoll has called on Rugby Australia (RA) to stick with Wallabies coach Michael Cheika until next year's Rugby World Cup. 

Under Cheika's guidance, the Wallabies have recorded their worst season in 50 years in which they won just four out of 13 Tests. 

That poor return has led to RA launching a review of the Wallabies set-up and the findings will be presented to the board on December 10. 

The Wallabies only have five more Tests to play before they kick off their 2019 World Cup campaign against Fiji on September 21 and O'Driscoll said it would be "very dangerous" to change coaches so close to the World Cup. 

"It's a very dangerous place to start replacing your coach less than 10 months out from the World Cup," O'Driscoll told AAP. 

"If someone can turn it around Michael Cheika can - he was one coach after five years I never got bored of listening to." 

O'Driscoll played under Cheika at Leinster from 2005 to 2010 with the Irish province winning a PRO12 title in 2008 and their first European Champions Cup title in 2009. 

But although O'Driscoll wants Cheika to retain his positions, he did hint that changes in the Wallabies' management team could be a possibility. 

"Whether he has to change some personnel in his backroom staff to bring a bit of freshness in, I don't know," added the 39-year-old. 

"But I've got a lot to admire in Michael Cheika. 

"He'll be finding it tough but he's also a glass half-full sort of guy where he'll feel he can turn it around in a short space of time and do something that the Australian public and rugby world don't think is achievable, and possibly get to another World Cup final." 

O'Driscoll and Cheika are still in contact, and the former British and Irish Lion said rugby fans have the wrong impression of the Wallabies coach. 

"He's one of the coaches that I probably remain in contact with," O'Driscoll said. 

"I haven't been talking to him for a while but any time he'd be in town or we'd be in the same city I'd always try and catch dinner with him. 

"I'm very very fond of him and he's a fun, normal guy. What you see banging on panes of glass in coaching boxes - is not the Michael Cheika that I know. 

"He's obviously very passionate and wants to win, and he's got a real sense of desire in what he does, otherwise he wouldn't have been as successful as he has been."

 

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