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Phil Waugh on the potential return of Michael Cheika: 'Everyone's in the hunt'

By AAP
Michael Cheika

Phil Waugh isn’t ruling out Rugby Australia going back to the well once more and hiring Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach for a second stint.

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Cheika on Tuesday announced he had parted company with Argentina, two months after guiding the Pumas to the Rugby World Cup semi-finals in France.

His departure raises the inevitable question: could Cheika return to Sydney to replace his former Randwick teammate Eddie Jones as Wallabies coach?

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Waugh says anything is possible, despite Jones’s own second tenure in charge of Australia ending in disaster, with the Wallabies failing to progress out of the World Cup group stages for the first time.

“Everyone’s in the hunt, to be fair,” the RA chief executive told AAP when asked if Cheika could be ruled out of contention, four years after finishing up with the Wallabies after the 2019 edition of the global showpiece.

“We haven’t gone to market with it yet.

“We’re hoping to announce our high-performance director this week and then get in the process of going to market for a head coach.

“We’re certainly not advanced in conversations, or in any conversations with anyone really.”

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Pressed on whether or not Cheika might be someone RA were interested in after taking the Wallabies to the 2015 World Cup final, Waugh said: “We’re interested in anyone, to be honest, but we just need to go through the process.”

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Cheika’s assistant Felipe Contepomi will take over as the Pumas’ head coach.

Argentina’s World Cup run to the semi-finals came after Cheika stepped up in March 2022, following two years as an adviser to the team.

Under the Sydneysider, the Pumas beat the All Blacks in New Zealand, the Wallabies in Australia and England at Twickenham.

They knocked out Wales in the World Cup quarter-finals, before losing to the All Blacks in the semis.

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“Having been the head coach of Los Pumas fills me with pride, and it is one of the experiences that I enjoyed the most in my career as a coach,” Cheika told the Argentina Rugby Union (UAR) website.

“Although I was born in Australia, a big part of me will be Argentina. I am convinced that Felipe and his staff are going to lead the team in the best way.”

Contepomi was the five-eighth at Irish club Leinster – and Cheika the coach – when the Irish outfit won their first European Cup in 2009.

He played 87 Tests, and was key to Argentina reaching their first Rugby World Cup semi-finals in 2007. Four years later, he captained the Pumas at his fourth World Cup.

Contepomi paid tribute to Cheika, calling it an honour to have worked under the Australian as Argentina’s attack coach and being “grateful for the extraordinary opportunity”.

After he retired from playing in 2014, he learned the coaching ropes with the Argentina XV and Super Rugby Jaguares, before returning to Leinster. Cheika brought him home in 2022.

UAR president Gabriel Travaglini thanked Cheika.

“His professionalism, passion and dedication to Argentine rugby is something we will remember forever,” Travaglini said.

“Today, we are convinced that Felipe is the right person for this new path towards Australia 2027.”
With AP

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Abe 1 hours ago
Waratahs 'counter-culture' limits Wallaby options for Joe Schmidt

Not a fan of your picks. McReight is good at club level but he is too small for international level and has consistently disappointed there. Better to go for larger guys. Kemeney, Valentini, Hooper, Leota, Samu, Swinton, etc. Aalatoa and Nonga are woeful scrummagers and don’t offer much around the field. Wallabies will not win if the scrum falls to pieces. The fact that Faamissli hasn’t been developed is a tragedy. Need a scrum that doesn’t give away penalties. So looks like a Talakai maybe instead. Best scrummagers need to be selected. McDermott runs the ball too much and doesn’t fit into a structured attack like Schmidts. Gets isolated too often. Ok off the bench late but not for 60 mins. Goal kicking has to be one of the top 3 points for a 10 so that does in Gordon and O’Connor. Be better off going for lynagh on that front. Donaldson and Noah seem to be doing best of the established names. QC a better mentor type guy than OConnor as well if he’s playing. Daugunu has been the most consistent 13 and breaks the line a lot so must be in the squad. Joost has also been good. Richie Arnold playing well for Toulouse and is a preeminent lineout jumper so needs to be in. Latu also playing well for La Rochelle and is better scrummager than the Aussie choices so should be in. The big guy at the Tahs Amataroso I think it is needs to be developed as well. Otherwise the team will be too small. Hodge is a better choice at fullback than Wright. Latter makes too many mistakes. Not sure if Hodge available.

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Turlough 6 hours ago
Four Leinster talking points after latest Champions Cup final loss

First of all: hats off to Toulouse an outstanding performance. Duponts kicking was phenomenal. Twice he challenged Keenan with amazing clearances from his 22 in extra time. Result was territory deep in Leinster half in the early part of extra time which lead to 2 penalties and the game. Remember also his two 50:22s? Now to Willis/Dupont. ANY slight isolation by a Leinster player resulted in a turnover penalty. How many turnovers in the Toulouse 22? Leinster’s defense was immense, they had opportunities in attack but they honestly looked like they had not spent enough time passing the ball in the training in the weeks preceding the final. Game management was poor. Toulouse’s scrum had crumbled. At 15-15 Leinster had a scrum advantage in a position that would be kickable for a scrum penalty. Leinster played on and missed a long range drop goal. You MUST take the scrum surely? Win penalty and its a shot at goal to win with time up. No penalty and you can attack and drop goal whatever. The distance from sideline penalties from Byrne was shocking. If you are kicking the line you must get close to that 5 metre line. How many times were Leinster forced to maul from 10-15 metres? Toulouse KNEW Leinster was going to kick and maul and clearly spent considerable training time neutralizing thuis threat. The maul was starting too far out, Toulouse were able to stop the heart of the drive. You must change tack and start kicking for goals. That said it always felt like Toulouse were the potent team on the day with Leinster under pressure and chasing. Even with their backline completely disrupted, Toulouse found a way. 9 Wins in their last 9 finals. Leinster will be there next year. But so will Toulouse/Northhampton etc. A great era of club rugby.

17 Go to comments
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