World reacts to ‘selfish’ Wallabies coach
Quade Cooper gave Michael Cheika a kick on the way out as he revealed his plan to step down as Wallabies coach - and now the pile-on has begun.
Cheika quit Sunday after a humiliating 40-16 World Cup quarter-final thrashing against England, drawing the curtain on a five-year reign that started strongly but ended in criticism and disappointment.
None more direct than a discussion on BT Sports involving ex-England player Ugo Monye, gold medal-winning Sevens coach Ben Ryan and New Zealand player Jimmy Gopperth.
The trio tore apart Cheika's tactics against the Poms. "(It) was one of the most selfish tactical gameplans I've seen in a long time because it wasn't about the players," Monye began.
"Everyone knows a blueprint of how you can challenge England. What Cheika put up against Eddie Jones - he let his players down.
"They've got brilliant players. When they got into England's half, when the likes of Will Genia, (Samu) Kerevi, (Marika) Koroibete - they looked unbelievable.
"But he totally ignored all that with sheer stubbornness. I didn't like the tactics, it didn't work out and I personally feel he let his team down because it didn't give them the best opportunity to win. How many trophies have you won (with these tactics)?"
"It was irresponsible because the game plan wasn't about the players, it was about him," Monye added. "It was about 'this is what I believe Australian rugby to be and we're going to stick to it come hell or high water, this is the way which is going to work'. And it's not worked in the rugby championship and in a knockout game - the biggest game of his career - I genuinely believe he's let his players down because they're too good a side to be getting beaten (40-16)."
Ryan: "He hid behind saying we're (playing) attacking rugby. It's not attacking rugby if you can't get out of your own 22. It was headless rugby. He just let down his players."
Gopperth: "I was watching it going 'what are you doing?'. You've just scored points and you're letting England straight back in because you're running out from your own 22. Sometimes you do go out with these mindsets of 'we're going to hang on to the ball, we're going to make the defence work'. But when you're under pressure - and you can feel that pressure as a player - you've got to step up and say 'hang on a minute, let's slow it down, let's play in the right areas of the field, let's change it, plan B'."
CHEIKA REFUSES TO ACCEPT HE GOT IT WRONG
Criticism of Cheika's tenure has escalated in the wake of the loss, particularly Australia's lack of pragmatism in attack - sticking with a running brand of rugby at all costs rather than accumulating points when offered.
But he is refusing to accept he got it wrong. "That is the way we play footy. I am not going to a kick-and-defend game," he said.
"Call me naive but that's not what I am doing. I would rather win playing our way, that's the way Aussies want us to play."
It was a common refrain throughout the tournament, as has been Cheika's beef that teams have scored their tries through one-off methods such as intercepts.
That was the source of two of England's four tries on Saturday and Cheika said the final scoreline didn't reflect how competitive his team were.
"You could say it came down to a few key moments. Everything was pretty tight. We have come to the tournament and played, over the last two years, our best rugby. We've played a lot of attacking rugby, scored some good tries," he said.
"As tends to happen to us sometimes, over the past few years, we go hard on the attack and sometimes we will encounter intercepts and dropped balls."
If there was tournament where Australia could play conservative rugby it was this one.
The Wallabies tight five more than held their own in the set pieces and, until the final quarter, arguably edged the vaunted English pack.
Michael Cheika’s reign is an interesting study. Passionately “wanting” something, “willing” it to happen (ie a successful Wallabies team) is never enough. There’s planning. And doing. And refining. Maybe that occurred & I’m being harsh. But it always seemed about the talk. 🤷♀️— Mary Collier (@mtc01) October 20, 2019
CHEIKA HAD 'PASSION WITHOUT INTELLIGENCE'
Cheika's approach to the job has been divisive. Veteran flyhalf Quade Cooper, who missed selection to the World Cup squad, wasn't sad to see his former coach go.
"If he actually cared about Aus rugby he would have done it a while ago," Cooper posted on Twitter.
Cheika, who narrowly avoided the axe after a horror season last year when Australia won just four of 13 Tests, also came under fire from domestic media Sunday over his tactics in the tournament.
"It was always going to come to this, always, always," The Australian's Wayne Smith said. "Rugby might be about passion and fervour and brute physicality but it is also about cunning and guile, and these were skills Michael Cheika never could communicate to the Wallabies ... Cheika's simple brand of rugby had long ago been broken down, analysed and dissected."
The Daily Telegraph said he had taken the Wallabies backwards, with his planning "exposed as a failure", while Fox Sports Australia claimed there was "passion without intelligence".
Cheika's tenure was marked by a successful 2015 World Cup campaign in which Australia reached the final, only to be beaten by the All Blacks. It earned him the world coach of the year accolade.
But the past 18 months have been less successful, with last year's miserable run followed by the disappointing World Cup in Japan.
Glasgow Warriors coach Dave Rennie, a New Zealander, is seen as among the frontrunners to replace him.
- with AAP
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