October 8, 2018 / 12:14 AM / a year ago

Rugby-Cheika safe but RA looking at changes to Wallabies 'environment'

MELBOURNE, Oct 8 (Reuters) - Michael Cheika will be hauled before Rugby Australia’s board in a review of the Wallabies’ poor Rugby Championship campaign but his coaching tenure is not up for discussion, the governing body’s CEO said.

Australia capped a disappointing tournament with a huge comeback win over Argentina on Saturday but finished third in the standings behind New Zealand and South Africa with two wins and four losses.

“We’re not talking about Michael Cheika being sacked as the head coach,” RA CEO Raelene Castle told The Australian newspaper.

“I don’t think that that is the scenario that we are talking about. We’re talking about changes to the whole environment.

“Michael gets back on Monday night. He will present to us his thoughts of the last two games and where he sees the performance of his team, the coaching team as well as the on-field team. And then we will assess that from there.

“He is the head coach and he deserves to come back and present his views and how he sees as what he needs for the environment as we build into the next 12 months.”

Finalists at the 2015 World Cup, Australia have lost eight of their last 11 tests and their world ranking has slumped to seventh in Cheika’s most difficult period since replacing Ewen McKenzie in 2014.

With the Wallabies struggling in all facets of the game, the scrutiny has extended to Cheika’s staff, which includes attack coach Stephen Larkham, defence head Nathan Grey and skills coach Mick Byrne.

Cheika showed he at least still has the support of the players, who lifted dramatically in the second half against the Pumas after receiving a huge half-time spray by their coach.

Cheika has remained defiant throughout the campaign, insisting he has a “plan” and the Wallabies will emerge from the tough period in time for the World Cup in Japan in a year’s time.

Castle said RA also had a plan, without elaborating on its detail.

“Rugby Australia, as you know, has a history of doing things under crisis. But we’ve worked really hard to make sure that (the coaching issue) isn’t one of them.”

The Wallabies face New Zealand in the third Bledisloe Cup test in Yokohama on Oct. 27, a dead rubber after the All Blacks wrapped up the annual trans-Tasman series 2-0 with wins in Sydney and Auckland. (Writing by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)

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