It seems that pressure and judgement is being weighed upon Australian head-coach Michael Cheika from all angles these days.
Following a spout in the media in which New Zealand coach Steve Hansen tried to make amends for somewhat cynical comments where he stated that Cheika had been bullied by Eddie Jones in the press over the duration of last month’s three test series, another coach has now jumped upon the bandwagon of Cheika’s critics.
Former Wallaby Glen Ella wrote in an online article during the week that the dire form of the Australian franchises in Super Rugby are deemed to run through into the international set-up ahead of the Rugby Championship, thus severely hampering Australia’s prospects:
“I wish I could believe in their enthusiasm and hope I’m proven wrong but they are kidding themselves,” Ella wrote on the sportsta website.
“I watched the Brumbies, Reds, Rebels and Tahs against their New Zealand counterparts and could only admire the Kiwis’ basic skills, urgency and tactical nous that seem to have deserted our teams down under.
“We lack players with the basic skills to compete against the All Blacks. Basic skills like catch and pass, kicking, offloading, set piece play, tackling, running into space and the list goes on.”
Ella, who served as one of Eddie Jones’ assistant coaches during the June whitewash, has spoken of the fear he has for Australian rugby heading into the competition.
What with Australia’s inability to retain the Bledisloe Cup since 2002 when Ella was assistant coach to non other than one Eddie Jones, he believes that if the Wallabies poor run of fortune is to continue, than the size able pressure already on the shoulders of Cheika and his coaching staff shall reach new heights.
“There are lots of kids out there that have grown up thinking of the Wallabies winning the Bledisloe Cup like a fairy tale, a good story but nothing to believe in,” Ella wrote.
“He (Cheika) must be pulling his hair out, or what hair he has left of it after the English whitewash, with the inconsistencies of his tight five, what the loose forwards combination will be, the backline, and where he will play Falou (sic).
“I’m glad it’s not me selecting the next test team because if the Wallabies put up another subpar performance against the All Blacks, not only will he be coming under the blow torch but the rest of the coaching team will as well.”
However one would feel that the current state of Australian Super Rugby and the recent series whitewash defeat at the hands of England does not give a true representation of where Australia’s prospects lie heading into the Championship.
There is no denying the downward spiral that the franchises have been on after a disastrous season which has seen Australia’s highest finishing side the Brumbies finish on less points than four of their New Zealand counterparts, with fifth placed Auckland Blues only three points behind after completing one of the most challenging schedules in this season’s Super Rugby.
However if history tells us anything, the sum total is greater than its parts and with the timely arrival of stalwarts Adam Ashley-Cooper, Matt Giteau, Drew Mitchell and Will Genia as well as a returning from injury David Pocock who only made a full appearance in the first test against England last month before being sidelined, Australia’s drive will never have been greater as they look to reinstate their standing in World Rugby at number two.
With such talent making it’s way back into fold coupled with the insatiable hunger that is likely to be on display, Cheika’s critics may very well be silenced, sooner rather than later.
(source via nzherald.co.nz)