July 18, 2019 / 7:47 AM / 2 months ago

Australia to seek 'quality' over nationality in Cheika successor

MELBOURNE (Reuters) - Rugby Australia want a “quality” coach over a home-grown one in picking Michael Cheika’s successor, director of rugby Scott Johnson has said.

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby Championship - Australia vs South Africa - Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, Port Elizabeth, South Africa - September 29, 2018 - Australia's head coach Michael Cheika. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

Cheika’s long-term future remains up in the air but the Wallabies coach has long declared he will quit the role if his team fails to win the World Cup in Japan.

Australia have stuck with local coaches since New Zealander Robbie Deans was sacked after defeat to the touring British and Irish Lions in 2013, with Cheika replacing Ewen McKenzie in 2014.

Johnson said RA wanted to develop the country’s young coaches but also needed to take a broader view.

“Everyone that’s coaching around the world’s in the frame,” Johnson said in comments published by RA’s website (rugby.com.au).

“I think we’re after quality, that’s what we’re after. We also need to invest in our coaching, that’s what we need to do.

“There are young coaches here of promise and we need to make sure that they are developed and we’ve got enough people there to pick from.

“It’s part of the challenge going forward.

“I don’t put a nationality next to the next person.

“It would be nice to have Australians in place but they have to be quality and that is what we’ve got to spend some time doing.”

The Wallabies won only four of their 13 tests in 2018, their worst season in decades, and are rank outsiders to win their third World Cup in Japan, which starts in September.

Former Australia coach Eddie Jones, now in charge of England, has also flagged stepping aside after Japan but has dismissed any suggestion of returning to the Wallabies, saying the national rugby set-up needs “cultural” change.

New Zealander Dave Rennie has been linked with the Wallabies job but the respected former Waikato Chiefs boss said he would be “unlikely” to take over due to his contract with Glasgow Warriors.

Johnson said RA was not sitting on its hands waiting.

“We’re doing our due diligence,” he said of the search for candidates.

“It’s not like we’re sitting back and doing nothing.

“We get paid to do certain parts of the job and we’ll do a proper process. Rest assured that Australia’s interest is at heart.”

Australia kick off the Rugby Championship against South Africa at Ellis Park on Saturday.

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Greg Stutchbury

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