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Michael Cheika relishing latest coaching duel with Eddie Jones

Eddie Jones (L) talks to Australia's coach Michael Cheika before the international rugby union test match between England and Australia at Twickenham stadium in south-west London on November 24, 2018. (Photo by Adrian DENNIS / AFP) (Photo credit should read ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

Michael Cheika knows one swallow doesn’t make a summer as he tries to plot another rare coaching win over long-time friend and foe Eddie Jones.


In a twist few could have imagined only a few months ago, the former Randwick teammates will renew their rivalry in Sydney on Saturday when Cheika’s Argentina side face Jones’ Wallabies in the Rugby Championship.

Both sides are searching for their first victory of 2023 after copping hidings from New Zealand and South Africa respectively last weekend.

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But, as ever, the narrative before the Commbank Stadium clash, is as much about the coaching duel between two of the best in the business who both readily admit hating to lose.

Much to his displeasure, Cheika lost seven times to Jones’ England team before finally masterminding a Pumas victory over them at Twickenham last year, before Jones was sacked and then appointed to replace Dave Rennie as Wallabies coach in January.

Cheika on Thursday, though, was careful not to claim bragging rights or poke the bear who has previously revelled in getting under his fiery counterpart’s skin with well-timed barbs.

“I wouldn’t say on the overall ledger that that’s the case. I’m still hungry for a few more, don’t worry,” he said after making four changes to his Pumas team that started in Sunday’s 41-12 loss to the All Blacks in Mendoza.



“Eddie’s a quality coach and I think that’s why Australia wanted to have him back because he can add a lot to the team here, and I’m sure he will.

“They’re just in construction like where we’re starting our season too so he’s a high-quality coach and you always want to go up against high-quality coaches just to test yourself.”

While the build-up to their latest coaching showdown has lacked the usual edge, Cheika is making no secret of his desire to notch another win over Jones.

The biggest thing with Eddie is he’s a competitor and he wants to win and I’m pretty much the same,” he said.


“We come from the same place really, just down at Coogee here.

“So that’s the one thing you know you’re going to get all the time. Styles can change and of course players have got to act that out on the field as well.

“But I thought it was a good call that Australia brought him back and I’m sure it will be. As long as it’s not when we’re playing against them.”

Cheika doesn’t agree with the theory that he’s under less pressure now coaching the Pumas than when he was while in charge of Australia.

“Pressure, there’s two types,” he said.

“There’s the pressure that’s applied from the outside and then there’s the pressure that you apply on yourself, and I’ve always applied maximum pressure on myself because that’s what I want to do.

“I want to test myself in the most difficult situations and see how I can help myself and the team come out on top. I want to be in that environment. I’m not worried about that environment.

“And that hardens you so that when you come to the external pressure, you’ve asked yourself all the questions that anyone wants to ask you anyway, if you’re being genuine with yourself.

“It’s more about ego. I want to win with Argentina as much as I’ve wanted to win with any other team I’ve coached.”


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Bob Marler 372 days ago

I like Eddie and all of his achievements. But unless he shuts up and starts winning - I fear his career may be coming to a close.

carlos 372 days ago

Losers competition. Mouths bigger than there brains.

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Shaylen 5 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

These guys will be utility players Nick it cannot be helped because coaches cannot help themselves. Rassie looks at players like these and sees the ability to cover multiple positions without losing much. It allows the 6-2 or 7-1. He wont change his coaching style or strategy for one player. At provincial level players like these are indispensable. If there is an injury to your starting 12 but your back up 12 is a bit iffy then a coach is going to go with the back up 10 who is gold and who can play a good 12. Damian Willemse for the Springboks is an obvious case, for the Stormers its the same. Dobson plays him at 12 or 15, with Gelant in the team he plays 12 but if Gelant goes down he doesnt go for his back up 15, he just puts Willemse there. With Frawley its the same at international and provincial level. He just slots in wherever. Frans Steyn made a career out of it. He was much maligned though as a youngster as he never fully developed into any role. He then went to Japan and France to decide for himself what kind of player he was, put on muscle and retained his big boot, ran over players and booted the ball long and came back into the Springboks after about 3 years away and was then certain about how he wanted to play the game no matter what position. Coaches cannot help themselves because they only want what is best for their teams and that means putting your most talented players on even if it means you cause them some discomfort. Sometimes players need to decide how they want to play the game and then adapt that to every position and let the coach decide how they want to use them.

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Jon 11 hours ago
Ireland and South Africa share the same player development dilemma

I think the main problem here is the structure of both countries make up. They are going to have very similar.. obstacles(not problems). It will just be part of the evolution of their rugby and they’ll need to find a way to make this versatility more advantageous than specialization. I think South Africa are well on the way to that end already, but Ireland are more likely to have a hierarchical approach and move players around the provinces. Ioane is going to be more than good enough to lock up one of those available positions for more than a few years I believe though. Morgan would definitely be a more long term outlook. Sacha to me has the natural footwork of a second five. Not everything is about winning, if a team has 3 players that want to play 10s just give them all a good go even if its to the detriment of everyone, this is also about dreams of the players, not just the fans. This is exactly how it would be in an amateur club setting. Ultimately some players just aren’t suited to any one position. The example was of a guy that had size and speed, enough pace to burn, power to drive, and speed to kick and pass long, but just not much else when it came to actual rugby (that matched it). New Zealand has it’s own example with Jordie Barrett and probably shows what Reece Hodge could have been if the game in Australia had any administration. Despite the bigger abundance of talent in NZ, Jordie was provided with consistent time as a fullback, before being ushered in as a second five. Possibly this was due to his blood, and another might not have been as fortunate, but it is what it was, a complete contrast to how Hodge was used in Australia, were he could have had any position he wanted. When it comes down to it though, much like these young fellas, it will be about what they want, and I think you’ll find they’ll be like Hodge and just want to be as valuable to the team as they can and play wherever. It’s not like 63 International Cap is a hard thing to live with as a result of that decision!

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