Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika recounted some of his less orthodox training methods during his time at Leinster Rugby – including stepping into contract sessions.
Cheika was speaking at the 10th Anniversary Dinner of Leinster’s 2009 Heineken Cup victory. The then young and relatively unknown Australian coach would lead the Irish province to their first European triumph – a win that would prove a watershed moment for the up-until-then nearly men of Irish rugby.
Cheika appeared alongside former club legends Brian O’Driscoll and Shane Horgan, and recounted some of team’s training methods.
“I think I was mid-thirties and I would jump into training – the contact (sessions),” Cheika told compere Martin Bayfield. “The blokes didn’t know whether to bash me or what to do.
“It wasn’t until Heaslip took me one that it turned into a free for all. Everyone wanted to belt me!”
“It was just the idea that you had to have a bit of edge. I’m not going to say I thought it with some great strategy – it’s just who I am. Hopefully that rubbed off to one person and they liked that, and then it rubbed off onto another person. Tactics and techniques all came later.”
Cheika also recounted how he came to sign Isa Necewa, who would eventually become a cult hero at the European giants.
Speaking at the event Necewa said: “I don’t like to compare squads but when you compare 10 years ago to what it is now today, we were a bunch of misfits. It was the end of the old school era, if you could say that. So many characters in the team. It’s so awesome to be back and having a beer with them, which is pretty cool.”
“If you actually look back on the season as a whole we lost a crap tonne of games. I don’t know how we got through really, but we dug it out.
“The Croke Park game in 2009 (against Munster) is one of the highlights of my career… you look back and think how important that day was. It was a bit of a milestone really, so that stands out in my eyes.”
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