Michael Cheika has ruled out the prospect of a dramatic return to coach the Waratahs, saying that “it was not the time.”
Michael Cheika has ruled out the prospect of a dramatic return to coach the Waratahs, saying that “it was not the time” to take the keys at the struggling Super Rugby club.
The former Wallabies supremo had what he described as “a casual conversation” with NSW chief executive Paul Doorn, who is in the market for a new coach after sacking Kiwi Rob Penney on Sunday.
Cheika’s Wallabies tenure ended after the 2019 Rugby World Cup and he has since done coaching work with Argentina and the Roosters.
A proud NSW man, Cheika led the Waratahs to their first and only Super Rugby title in 2014 but he shot down the prospect of a coaching comeback on Stan Sport on Saturday night.
“I think that coaching, it’s not the time for me now to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika said after watching the Reds thrash the Rebels at AAMI Park.
“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.”
While ruling out coaching NSW again, Cheika said he was willing to “do anything to help them get back on track.”
READ MORE: Cheika backed to lead Waratahs rebuild
READ MORE: Unbeaten Reds make Super Rugby statement
READ MORE: Harrison’s heartbreak as Tahs remain winless
The Waratahs have a horror 0-6 record this year although they showed definite improvement in pushing the Brumbies in a close loss on Friday night.
Penney’s assistants, Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker, are sharing 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 rang him to see if he needed anything from me because I believe that continuity of what happened before you is really essential, to help you understand,” said Cheika, whose sharp insight on Stan Sport and Nine has been a breath of fresh air this year.
“As opposed to just coming in and starting fresh – yes, you do have to start fresh but if you’ve got some kind of continuity to what’s happened before or what you know about the DNA of the club, especially if you’re not from here, it can really be helpful…
“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. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.
“Of course they’ve made some decisions now and we need to show some leadership going forward to get them right.”
A director of rugby type role at the Waratahs could still appeal to Cheika although his price tag could be tough for NSW to afford.
Cheika hoped NSW would now take a leaf out of the Reds model, with Queensland showing faith in Brad Thorn to lead a longterm rebuild that is now bearing fruit.
“I think for NSW, maybe that’s the look, someone who can do that for the longterm, not looking to go somewhere else,” Cheika said.
“Who’s someone that understands this environment and wants to be here for the longterm and take this team back to the top.”
For a daily dose of the best of the breaking news and exclusive content from Wide World of Sports, subscribe to our newsletter by clicking here!