'They need some clean air': Michael Cheika makes his intentions clear around returning to help the winless Waratahs
Michael Cheika says the time isn’t right for him to return to Super Rugby to coach the winless Waratahs.
The former Wallabies boss had been lauded as a possible replacement for sacked coach Rob Penney, who was a casualty of disappointing season.
Cheika is the only coach ever to lead NSW to a Super Rugby title, masterminding the Waratahs’ 2014 breakthrough before leaving the following year to take charge of the Wallabies.
He guided Australia to the 2015 Rugby World Cup final but quit after their failure at the 2019 global showpiece in Japan and has since been an assistant with the Sydney Roosters NRL side and national coach of Lebanon rugby league.
Working as a commentator on the Super Rugby AU match between Melbourne and Queensland, Cheika said he was willing to “do anything to help them (the Waratahs) get back on track”.
But he ruled out the prospect of a full-time coaching comeback.
“I think that coaching, it’s not the time for me now to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika said on Stan Sport.
“It’s maybe a little bit too fresh, raw and also from a national point of view, they don’t need me in that space probably at this point.
“They need some clean air, Wallaby coaches, without the name from the last four or five years because it’s been a huge thing for me.”
Penney’s assistants, Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker, are sharing coaching responsibilities for the remainder of the season.
Said to be advising the Waratahs on the structure of the embattled franchise’s long-term coaching set-up, Cheika said he’d spoken to Waratahs chief executive Paul Doorn.
“I don’t think that my ideas are the ultimate ideas – I just gave (Doorn) a few ideas of what I’ve experienced in the past and what’s worked for us and what might work for NSW – and understanding its DNA a little bit more.
“It was a wonderful experience for me coaching NSW. Loved it, every minute of it – the highs and the lows – and I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.”
Cheika thought the Waratahs could model themselves on the Reds, who backed coach Brad Thorn in a long-term build and are now unbeaten in 2021.
“I think for NSW, maybe that’s the look, someone who can do that for the long-term, not looking to go somewhere else,” Cheika said.
“Someone that understands this environment and wants to be here for the long-term and take this team back to the top.”
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