One of Australia’s longest serving rugby writers has called for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and his staff to be axed immediately.
Cheika and his side head to Auckland’s Eden Park on Saturday, via a camp on Waiheke Island, under immense pressure after a second half capitulation and 38-13 defeat to the All Blacks in Sydney.
But veteran scribe Greg Growden is adamant Cheika’s time is up and Rugby Australia needs to act immediately, just over a year out from the World Cup in Japan.
“If Rugby Australia is serious about a productive 2019 Rugby World Cup campaign as well as regaining the faith of thousands of disenchanted Wallabies supporters, they must get rid of Cheika, and all of his backup coaching and managerial staff now,” Growden wrote for ESPN.
Formerly rugby writer for the Sydney Morning Herald who’s seen a few Wallabies coaches in his time, Growden wrote that the end of the year would be too long to wait to jettison Cheika and his staff which includes former All Blacks skills coach Mick Byrne.
“They must try to lure Joe Schmidt from Ireland, maybe even entice a Wayne Bennett or Craig Bellamy-like figure across from the rugby league ranks. Anything … because this rot has to stop,” Growden continued on ESPN.
“Drastic action is required because Cheika’s Wallabies are going absolutely nowhere, sending Australian rugby into a frightening nose-dive.
“Cheika must pay the price for a team whose appalling skill level makes a mockery of the professional footballer tag, and arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude does not warrant any respect from those sick and tired of a pedestrian outfit who constantly makes fools of themselves in the big games.”
Growden observed the Wallabies supporters had clearly had enough, giving Cheika and company the thumbs down sign and banging on the windows of the coaches’ box after the final whistle in Sydney.
Cheika’s coaching record since taking over in November 2014 is an “unacceptable” 25 wins and two draws from 49 tests, a 51 per cent success rate, and the Wallabies sit fifth on the world rankings.
“Surely Cheika cannot survive. The players are no longer responding to his ‘fire and brimstone’ manner, an approach which always has a limited lifespan,” Growden wrote.