Outgoing Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has been freshly linked with a move back to France to take over as Montpellier’s director of rugby.
Cheika’s tumultuous five years in the Australian role ended with the Wallabies’ disappointing World Cup quarter-final exit in Japan last weekend.
French rugby newspaper Midi Olympique is reporting that Montpellier, who play in the Top 14, have had talks with Cheika’s management about replacing Kiwi Vern Cotter when his contract ends in June next year.
A return to France would be a natural fit for French-speaking Cheika, who has Lebanese heritage.
He played in France for four years during his 20s, coached Paris powerhouse Stade Francais between 2010–2012, is married to a French woman and his four children are bilingual.
At Montpellier, Cheika would coincidentally be a part of the same organisational structure which he said was behind his fallout with Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and chairman Cameron Clyne.
As director of coaching, Cheika would oversee head coach Frenchman Xavier Garbajosa as Scott Johnson did over him in the Wallabies set-up.
The paper said that the recruitment of Cheika by the club’s billionaire president Mohed Altrad, would help bring in players.
“The Herault business leader would then make a big move in the transfer market, as the aura of the Australo-Lebanese is important on the international scene”, Midi Olympique said.
It added that despite his lack of success with Stade Francais and most recently with the Wallabies, his “overall track record remains impressive”.
Steering Australia to the World Cup final in 2015, Cheika is the only coach to have won the major rugby club competition in each hemisphere – winning the Heineken Cup with Leinster and the Super Rugby competition with the Waratahs.
Michael Cheika hasn’t exactly set the world on fire with the Wallabies:
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