Michael Cheika’s inspired to do best for Wallabies
HIGHLY passionate Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has 336 days to arrest Australia's world rankings slide and bring the World Cup Down Under for the first time since 1999.
Australia plays its first World Cup game in the UK on September 23 next year.
The Australian Rugby Union finally closed the deal with Cheika at 9am yesterday after sorting out several contract issues, including World Cup-winning bonuses, assistant coaching staff, and salary. The ARU also agreed the former Randwick forward could continue coaching the Waratahs in the Super Rugby competition ... but only for the 2015 season.
"I never got the chance to play for the Wallabies, so to coach them is touching for me," Cheika told a packed press conference at the ARU's Sydney headquarters.
"It inspires me to want to do the very best I can and to be top class, because that's what that positions deserves."
Cheika said his job would be to get Australia's best players to play at their peak.
"That's the coach's job, to get the top players to perform at their maximum potential," the 47-year-old said.
"If you can do that, you are going to get a good result."
Despite the seemingly smooth transition at yesterday's official's announcement, Cheika is stepping into a minefield.
The ARU is in turmoil following the decision by disgruntled former coach Ewen McKenzie's to quit the top job the morning of Australia's gut-wrenching 29-28 last-minute loss to the All Blacks last Saturday.
Cheika has to await the outcome of an the independent code of conduct inquiry into the Kurtley Beale texting affair to learn if he'll have a player he believes is vital to Australia's World Cup chances in his squad.
He declined to answer any Beale questions, saying he did not want to prejudice the hearing.
Speculation is also mounting that ARU boss Bill Pulver is on borrowed time, although that threat appeared to ease a little with Cheika's appointment.
The new coach will lead a 33-man squad on the coming Tour of Europe, which includes five uncapped players. Melbourne Rebels loose forward Sean McMahon and Western Force prop Tetera Faulkner were the surprise selections, while Force centre Kyle Godwin, Brumbies winger Henry Speight and Rebels winger Tom English have yet to make their Wallabies debuts. The Wallabies face matches against the Barbarians, Wales, France, Ireland and England.
Ashley-Cooper, Alexander, Carter, Cooper, English, S Fainga'a, Faulkner, Folau, Foley, Genia, Godwin, Hanson, Higginbotham, Hodgson, Hooper (c), Horne, Horwill, Jones, Kepu, Kuridrani, Leali'ifano, Mann-Rea, McCalman, McMahon, Phipps, Robinson, Simmons, Skelton, Slipper, Speight, Tomane, Toomua, White.