Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is reportedly the number one target for Montpellier’s vacant head coaching position, according to French publication Midi Olympique.
After leaving his post as Wallabies coach that he held from 2014 to the end of the 2019 World Cup, Cheika hasn’t committed to any permanent coaching jobs, most recently helping Argentina’s Tri-Nations campaign in 2020 as an assistant to Mario Ledesma as well as consulting to NRL club Sydney Roosters.
The Australian has been long favoured by Montpellier owner Mohed Altrad, who reportedly has approached Cheika again about taking over the Montpellier head coaching role after the sacking of former French international Xavier Garbajosa last month.
Midi Olympique describe Cheika as ‘the hottest candidate’ as he is fluent in French and is familiar with European competition having played and coached at Stade Francois, while reaching European glory at the helm of Leinster in 2009.
If an agreement is made, he would arrive in France in June however the former Wallabies coach has already agreed to coach Lebanon at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which would overlap with the Top 14 season.
Montpellier is desperate to turn around a troubling Top 14 season, where they sit second from bottom with just three wins from 12 games.
The former heavyweight of the league is not shy of handing out top dollar contracts, having committed million euro plus deals for Aaron Cruden and Handre Pollard in recent years, in addition to another expensive buyout of former Springbok flyhalf Johan Goosen’s contract from Toulon.
The club has been a hot spot for South African players, with Bismarck Du Plessis, Cobus Reinach, Jan Serfontein, Nico Janse van Rensberg joining Pollard and Goosen on the current roster.
The free-wheeling dealing for marquee international players hasn’t paid off in silverware, with the club’s second-place finish in the Top 14 in 2018 the closest they have come to a league title after losing to Castres in the final.
On the European front, the club won the Challenge Cup in 2016 but in recent seasons have been shocked in Champions Cup pool play, famously losing to English club Newcastle Falcons in the 2018/19 season, who were at the time the bottom club in the Premiership and were eventually relegated.
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