Former Australia coach Michael Cheika has hit back at accusations from ex-selector Michael O’Connor that the Wallabies’ 2019 World Cup campaign “was always going to end in tears”.
Dual-code international O’Connor claimed the tournament in Japan was doomed to failure due to confusion over Cheika’s game plan and poor training standards within the playing group.
Australia lost to Wales in the group stage before exiting the World Cup in the quarter-finals with a 40-16 thrashing by England, their equal worst finish at the tournament.
But, speaking to Rugby Australia’s official website, Cheika said O’Connor was rarely at training and that he was disappointed by his former colleague going public with his comments.
“Since the whole thing finished… I’ve not slagged anyone, not spoken poorly of any other person inside the organisation and I don’t want to,” Cheika said.
An Australian World Cup selector has revealed the chaos behind the Wallabies' failed campaign, and claimed part of coach Michael Cheika's game plan was "like a scam".https://t.co/hoAF7s6QtT
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 16, 2020
“At a certain point sometimes where the line is crossed on what the truth is you have to stand up and say, ‘This is not right and that person shouldn’t be talking like that’.”
O’Connor, who was recently released from his Rugby Australia contract due to financial constraints, was part of a selectors’ panel foisted upon former coach Cheika last year following a 2018 season in which the Wallabies won only four of 13 Test matches.
The former international told the Sydney Morning Herald a number of players were unconvinced by Cheika’s attacking game plan. “When you look back on it: what was it?” O’Connor said.
“That new attacking style he was going to bring to the Wallabies, it was so secretive and he had to play players out of Super (Rugby) commitments and fly them to Brisbane and educate them. I don’t know. It was almost like a scam.”
O’Connor also criticised the players for failing to stand up to their coach and tell him their concerns. “It was one of the failings from that campaign – players who clearly weren’t sold on the style of play either didn’t voice their concern or were afraid of ramifications,” he said.
“Disturbing” standards at training underlined the malaise, he added. “I’ve never ever seen as much dropped ball from a national team… if you’re going to drop it training, you’re going to drop it in a game. It was always going to end in tears.”
— RugbyPass (@RugbyPass) June 17, 2020
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