By Colm Boohig
Following weeks of turmoil, Michael Cheika has been appointed the new coach of Australia. Cheika replaces the under fire Ewan McKenzie, who suddenly resigned following Saturday’s narrow defeat by New Zealand.
From the get-go it was reported that Cheika was the outstanding candidate and it seems as though the ARU have got their man. Cheika signs a three-year deal with the national side, having led the Waratahs to Super League triumph earlier this year. He will double-job in 2015, continuing with the Waratahs while also making preparations for next year’s World Cup.
The Wallabies have been placed in the same pool as England and Wales for the big event next year, so ideal preparation is imperative. The Cheika era begins on November 1st as the Aussies commence their European tour with a friendly against Barbarians, before trips to Wales, France, Ireland and finally, England.
Australia fly to Europe tomorrow but one player who will not be joining them is Kurtley Beale, who will spend his Friday at a hearing over the Di Patston affair. The incident of course was a key contributor in Cheika’s predecessor McKenzie’s sudden departure. The allegations regarding Beale’s inappropriate behaviour and alleged text messages sent to the ARU business manager Patston, aligned with a reported personal relationship between McKenzie and Patston, which the former has repeatedly denied, left the situation virtually untenable for everybody concerned. All three figures, for the time being at least, are no longer involved with the Wallabies.
This has allowed for a clean start for Cheika and he has used this break to pick five uncapped players for the European tour, notably Sean McMahon of the Melbourne Rebels.
After days of procrastination over the announcement of McKenzie’s replacement, the fresh start can finally begin for the ARU. The question is; will Cheika be able to stamp his authority on the side just months before the World Cup?
Australia squad to tour Europe
Adam Ashley-Cooper, Ben Alexander, Sam Carter, Quade Cooper, Tom English, Saia Fainga’a, Tetera Faulkner, Israel Folau, Bernard Foley, Will Genia, Kyle Godwin, James Hanson, Scott Higginbotham, Matt Hodgson, Michael Hooper (capt), Rob Horne, James Horwill, Luke Jones, Sekope Kepu, Tevita Kuridrani, Christian Leali’ifano, Josh Mann-Rea, Ben McCalman, Sean McMahon, Nick Phipps, Benn Robinson, Rob Simmons, Will Skelton, James Slipper, Henry Speight, Joe Tomane, Matt Toomua, Nic White.
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Image courtesy of Green and Gold Rugby