Michael Cheika has ruled out the prospect of a spectacular return for the Waratahs coach, saying “now is not the time” to take the keys to the struggling Super Rugby club.
The former Wallabies supreme had what he described as “an informal conversation” with NSW CEO Paul Doorn, who is on the hunt for a new coach. after sacking Kiwi Rob Penney on Sunday.
The Cheika Wallabies’ tenure ended after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he has since done coaching work with Argentina and the Roosters.
Proud of New South Wales, Cheika led the Waratahs to their first and only Super Rugby title in 2014, but dismissed the prospect of a coach return to Stan Sport on Saturday night.
“I think as a coach now is not the time for me to coach the Waratahs,” said Cheika after watching the Reds beat the rebels at AAMI Park.
“Maybe it’s a bit too fresh, raw and also from a national perspective, they probably don’t need me in this space at this point.
“They need some fresh air, Wallaby trainers, with no name for the last four or five years because it’s been such a huge thing for me.”
While ruling out coaching NSW again, Cheika said he was ready to “do anything to help them get back on track.”
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The Waratahs have a 0-6 horror record this year although they have shown marked improvement pushing the Brumbies into a close Friday night loss.
Penney’s assistants Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker share coaching responsibilities for the remainder of the season and Doorn hopes to have a permanent coach in place by September at the latest.
“When Rob came, originally, I called him to see if he needed anything from me because I believe that the continuity of what happened before you is really essential, for you. help understand, ”said Cheika, whose insight on Stan Sport and Nine has been a breath of fresh air this year.
“Instead of going in and starting anew – yes you have to start from scratch, but if you have some kind of continuity with what’s happened before or what you know about the DNA of the club, especially if you are not from here, it can really be useful …
“I don’t think my ideas are the ultimate ideas. I just gave (Doorn) a few ideas of what I’ve been through in the past and what has worked for us and what might work for NSW – and understand a little more his DNA …
“It was a wonderful experience for me to coach NSW, I loved every minute – the ups and downs. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.
“Of course they have made decisions now and we have to show leadership in the future to make them right.”
A rugby-style role director at the Waratahs might still appeal to Cheika although its price might be hard to pay for NSW.
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Cheika was hoping NSW would now take a sheet of the Reds’ model, with Queensland showing confidence in Brad Thorn to lead a long-term rebuild which is now bearing fruit.
“I think for NSW maybe it’s the look, someone who can do it for the long haul, not looking to go somewhere else,” Cheika said.
“Who is someone who understands this environment and wants to be here for the long haul and bring this team back to the top.”
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