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Michael Cheika highlights the 'problem' with Australia rugby

By Sam Smith
Australia coach Michael Cheika. Photo / Getty Images

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Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has moved to quell suggestions that young Western Force flyhalf Reesjan Pasitoa should be fast-tracked into the Wallabies and lamented how quick Australian rugby can be to promote the ‘next big thing’.


Pasitoa performed strongly in the No 10 jersey for the Force in their record win over the Melbourne Rebels on Saturday night and early in the match former Wallabies midfielder and current Stan Sport panellist Tim Horan suggested on Twitter that the young playmaker should be elevated into the Wallabies as soon as possible to develop him into a top-tier first five-eighth.

“Reesjan Pasitoa has to be in the Wallabies squad in 2022,” Horan posted. “Early days I know, but he is a future star. At 20 years old….the time is right.”

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Los Pumas star Pablo Matera discusses his move to the Crusaders.
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Los Pumas star Pablo Matera discusses his move to the Crusaders.

Fellow panellist Cheika, however, disagreed with Horan and made his views clear in the game’s post-match broadcast.

“This is the continual problem, right? Forget about young Pasitoa, let’s have a think about [current Wallabies] Noah Lolesio or Quade Cooper or James O’Connor … and give them the confidence to play,” Cheika said.

“And when this lad – who is good, he’s got time on the ball, he’s getting the ball on the run so he’s drawing defenders even before he has the ball, you can see he’s got that ability – but let him stamp his authority to become a top player in Super Rugby with the Western Force and then inject him into the Wallabies as a player who will make a difference from the off instead of going in there, maybe struggle for a bit and come out and earn your stripes.

“That’s what we’ve gotta do. We’ve got to let players get their business done in Super Rugby and then they can hit the ground running in the gold colours and perform from day one because in that arena, it’s excellence every minute, there’s no respite. You’ve got to be on every second you’re in the gold jersey.”


Lolesio was considered by many as a Wallaby-in-waiting as soon he played his first game of Super Rugby for the Brumbies in 2020 after he had been a member of the Australian Under 20s side that finished in second place at the 2019 World Championships.

Although Dave Rennie did select Lolesio in his squad for that year’s test calendar, Lolesio played just a small part in the campaign. It was a similar story this season with Lolesio starting the opening five games of Wallabies’ campaign before Quade Cooper took over as the first-choice No 10. Lolesio was originally left out of the Wallabies squad that travelled north to Europe but was called up when Cooper couldn’t travel.

At just 22 years of age and in just his third season of Super Rugby, Lolesio still has plenty of time to develop into a test-level flyhalf.

Other young playmakers in Australia such as Will Harrison and Ben Donaldson are also similarly hyped up but when they don’t immediately fire they’re ostensibly discarded as a ‘disappointment’ – often simply by the wider public but sometimes also by their coaches.


20-year-old Pasitoa made the switch to Western Force this season after spending two years behind Lolesio at the Brumbies.


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