Following one of the worst seasons in Wallabies history with just four wins from 13 tests, the chorus for change grows louder, with prominent ex-Wallabies publicly advocating for Rugby Australia to end Cheika’s reign.
Fullback Matt Burke, hooker Brendan Cannon, and former coach Bob Dwyer are all critical of the current environment, labeling the performances ‘unacceptable’ and the respect factor has dissapeared from opposition.
“They can’t sit back and let this decline continue without someone deciding to take the bull by the horns, say this is unacceptable and we need to do something to turn it around,” Cannon said.
“Whatever that is – changing the coach, appointing a former Wallaby as a chairman of selectors on a panel, appointing new assistants – take a bit from each of the successful teams in the world and implement that.
“For a period of time we were the world leaders in rugby – three years ago we played in a World Cup final – but our decline has been so rapid, so quick and so sad.”
The problems run deep according to Cannon, who believes it isn’t just Cheika who needs to fall on his sword.
“There’s a lot of people that need to be held to account, Michael Cheika isn’t the only one,” he said.
“On the professional side, there’s a number of systems that need to be reflected upon. In the space of three or four years, we’ve gone from being second in the World Cup to [sixth] in the world and each year our performances as a group and our individual skills aren’t getting any better.”
“I think RA need to take a lot of control back off Cheika and use it as a catalyst for change,” he said. “If they don’t want to then I’ll find another sport. I don’t know what to say about them at the moment.”
World Cup-winning fullback Matt Burke also believes that Cheika has too much power, saying he is basically untouchable due to his standing within head office.
“He survives because he has the run of the mill at the Australian Rugby Union,” he told Big Sports Breakfast.
“There’ll be a review and they’ll put things in place but he has total autonomy over that joint at the moment.
“They’re not going to change him, whether or not anyone calls for his sacking.”
“That respect factor (from opposition teams) is gone.”
“You can win your games against Italy, just, but that goes to show where [Australia] are in world rugby,” he said.
“You saw Italy get smashed by New Zealand, 66-3. There was no chat from Conor O’Shea, their coach, about ‘we’re going to take it to the Kiwis today, we’re going to really get stuck into them’. Where they said that about us.
Former Wallaby coach Bob Dwyer said it was time for Cheika to stand up and deliver.
“When the chips are down the leader has to step up,” Dwyer said.
“It requires some sound judgment and it definitely requires ‘Cheik’ to show what he’s got. He’s got plenty of ticker and he needs to show it, stand up and say this is what we’re going to do and this is how we’re going to get there.”
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