Super Rugby AU 2021: Queensland Reds vs Brumbies, Australian rugby, New Zealand Rugby, Michael Cheika, Wallabies


When the world stopped 13 months ago and the borders slammed shut rugby almost returned to the Stone Age.

Rugby Australia chair Hamish McLennan admitted as much just last week, as the governing body revealed a $27.1 million deficit, when he spoke of the very real possibility the game would return to “amateur” when he started.

Had the Bledisloe series and Tri Nations not gone ahead, and RA not received a loan from World Rugby and HSBC to keep them afloat, the Moore Park doors may well have shut. They were genuine fears and discussed daily.

But if there was one good thing to come out of the pandemic it was that it allowed Australia to look in its own backyard.

Rather than travelling across the ditch and losing, as well as playing in the middle of the night in South Africa where most returned empty-handed too, Australia’s Super teams played one another.



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Super Rugby 2021: news, Waratahs coach, John Connolly, Michael Cheika, update,


The Waratahs have hit the road hoping to inspire the next generation and they are about to start the process of appointing their next coach.

One person believed to be out of the running is highly respected Shute Shield coach Darren Coleman, who is understood to have been offered a new three-year deal with LA Giltinis in the USA’s Major League Rugby Competition. The Giltinis sit atop the MLR and easily top the try count and Coleman is being credited for once again putting together a list and having them fire.

But former Wallabies coach John Connolly – who is currently the director of rugby at Brothers in Brisbane – is believed to be interested in the role.

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NRL 2021: Roosters shock play for All Blacks great TJ Perenara, Jake Friend, Michael Cheika, Frederic Michalak


Last year they gave Sonny Bill Williams a SOS, now the Roosters are in talks to sign All Blacks World Cup-winner TJ Perenara to fill the void left by Jake Friend.

A report from 1 NEWS in New Zealand said Perenara is “seriously considering” the code switch, with the halfback uncontracted beyond 2021.

The 29-year-old, who played 69 Tests for the All Blacks and featured at two World Cup campaigns, left Super Rugby last year to take up a short-term contract with Japanese Top League team Red Hurricanes.

He is contracted to New Zealand Rugby until the end of 2021 and said late last year his Japanese sabbatical “doesn’t mean it’s the end for me” in New Zealand.

But life after Perenara has already begun and there are a number of young No.9s on the rise across the ditch despite playing five of six Tests for the All Blacks last year.

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The roadblock standing between Cheika and the Waratahs


He didn’t so much as rule out a return entirely, but as it stands former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika won’t return as the Waratahs’ saviour – not while Scott Johnson remains as Rugby Australia director of rugby anyway.

With the Waratahs coaching gig open following Rob Penney’s sacking a week ago, any number of candidates have been raised to take over at season’s end.

Thus far only national women’s sevens coach John Manenti has publicly stated he wants the role, but others including current interim co-head coach Jason Gilmore, Darren Coleman and men’s sevens coach Tim Walsh could also apply.

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Former assistant Simon Cron, coaching under Steve Hansen in Japan, last week ruled himself out because of the unfortunate timing of Penney’s sacking which came less than a month after he decided to stay on at Toyota, where current Wallabies captain Michael Hooper and former All Blacks skipper Kieran Read are based.

While Waratahs great Chris Whitaker said following his side’s heartbreaking 24-22 defeat on Friday he hadn’t had the time to consider whether he will apply given the “uncomfortable” and “difficult” nature of the previous week.

On Saturday, the 2014 Super Rugby-winning Waratahs coach was asked about his conversations with NSW CEO Paul Doorn after it was revealed the duo had spoken.

“We’ve had a casual conversation,” Cheika told Channel 9. “I don’t think my ideas are the ultimate ideas. I just gave a few ideas of what I’ve experienced in the past and what’s worked for us and what might work for NSW and understanding its DNA a little bit more.

“I’d do anything to help them get back on track. It was a wonderful experience coaching NSW, I loved every minute of it, the highs and the lows. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.

“They have made some decisions now and they need to show some leadership going forward to get them right.”

Pushed on whether he would like to be involved in some capacity at the Waratahs, Cheika said the timing, as it stands, wouldn’t be right.

“I think that it’s not the time for me to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika said.

“It’s maybe a little bit too fresh (and) raw. Also, from a national point of view, they don’t need me in that space probably at this point. They (Wallabies coaches) need some clean air . . . without the name from the last four or five years because it’s been a huge thing for me.”

Although it’s understood Cheika has aspirations to coach the Wallabies one day again, Cheika is enjoying being out of the coaching spotlight for the time being after the ugly ending to his six-year tenure with the national team.

The 2015 World Rugby coach of the year, who took the Wallabies to the World Cup final that same year, felt like he should have resigned at the end of 2018 when then-CEO Raelene Castle brought in Johnson over the top of him as DOR.

Cheika felt like Johnson’s appointment in the crucial World Cup year undermined his role as head coach and allowed for his players to question his authority and decision making.

Meanwhile, Whitaker said he was “proud of the effort” of his side following their gallant 24-22 win over the Brumbies at the SCG.

The Waratahs fought back from 10-0 down and 24-10 at halftime to keep their opponents scoreless in the second half, but a conversion miss from Will Harrison after regular time meant they failed to send the match into golden try.

Whitaker was visibly emotional after a tumultuous week and said that the former head coach could take some credit for their improved showing.

“It was uncomfortable,” Whitaker said.

“Rob can take a lot of that credit. As (captain) Jake Gordon said, it was a tough old week. We were probably lucky that the Brumbies game came around so quickly because it didn’t give the boys too much time to think about it, it was just about preparing for the Brumbies week. The boys still talked to Rob a bit, so he can take a lot of credit for that.”

The Waratahs have the bye this week before finishing the season with matches against the Force and Rebels.

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‘It’s not the time’: Cheika pours cold water on Waratahs return


Michael Cheika said he would be happy to help the Waratahs in the future but has poured cold water on the prospect of replacing Rob Penney as head coach.

Cheika has been floated as a potential successor to Penney, who was sacked on Sunday, or even in a director of rugby role should the Waratahs opt to bring back the man who coached them to a Super Rugby title in 2014.

Michael Cheika as Waratahs coach in 2014. Credit:Brendan Esposito

Speaking on Stan Sport’s coverage after the Queensland Reds and Melbourne Rebels match, Cheika was asked about the Herald’s report that NSW Rugby boss Paul Doorn sounded him out for his opinion on what coaching structure he thought would work in the future.

“We’ve had a casual conversation,” Cheika said. “I don’t think my ideas are the ultimate ideas. I just gave a few ideas of what I’ve experienced in the past and what’s worked for us and what might work for NSW and understanding its DNA a little bit more.

“I’d do anything to help them get back on track. It was a wonderful experience coaching NSW, I loved every minute of it, the highs and the lows. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.

“They have made some decisions now and they need to show some leadership going forward to get them right.”

Pressed on whether he would be interested in returning to the Waratahs, Cheika said now was not the time.

“I think that it’s not the time for me to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika said. “It’s maybe a little bit too fresh [and] raw. Also, from a national point of view, they don’t need me in that space probably at this point. They [Wallabies coaches] need some clean air . . . without the name from the last four or five years because it’s been a huge thing for me.

“Anything they need and anything the coaches need [I will help with]. Even when Rob came, I rang him to see if he needed anything from me, because I believe that continuity of what happened before you is really essential.”

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Michael Cheika, Trent Robinson watch on as NSW Waratahs fall short of miraculous upset against ACT Brumbies


That left the Brumbies with 13 players on the field for the final play, as referee Graham Cooper mistakenly sent Rory Scott from the field for a shoulder charge minutes earlier when he meant to send Lachlan Lonergan to the sin bin.

While the Waratahs remain winless, there now appears to be light at the end of the tunnel.

Just five days after the NSWRU board gave Penney his marching orders, NSW produced their best performance of the season.

The reigning Super Rugby AU champions had won 10 of their last 11 starts against NSW. That remarkable run started after Michael Cheika, who watched on in the SCG stands alongside Sydney Roosters coach Trent Robinson, departed for the Wallabies.

Will Harrison cut a forlorn figure at the end of the match.

Will Harrison cut a forlorn figure at the end of the match.Credit:Getty

Whether Cheika will fill the vacant coach position remains to be seen. The performance would have given any aspiring coach hope the Waratahs can again be a force in the competition.

There were many bright spots, which have been scarce throughout their winless start to the season.

The forward pack can hold their head high. They matched the Brumbies and regularly put the home side in a position to score points.

Will Harrison misses the final-minute conversion.

Will Harrison misses the final-minute conversion.Credit:Getty

Gordon was man of the match in his return from injury. His playmaking, direction and cool head made a huge difference.

“With the limited caps that we’ve got in the squad ,to get someone who has half the amount of caps of everyone put together – having Jake just steadies the ship,” Whitaker said.

“Jack Grant’s done a fabulous job while Jake’s been injured, but at the same time just to have that leadership and direction is first class and he’s a classy player.”

Izaia Perese looked dangerous with almost every touch of the ball. Angus Bell’s first start since the Brumbies last belted the Waratahs was impressive. Will Harris was one of the Waratahs’ best.

The untried locks – Jeremy Williams and Max Douglas – churned through plenty of unfashionable work.

In the first half, those bright spots were erased by some shambolic defence.

The Brumbies’ three first half tries – to Tom Banks, Andy Muirhead and Folau Fainga’a – all came from set pieces.

Tom Banks crashes over for the Brumbies.

Tom Banks crashes over for the Brumbies.Credit:Getty

Trailing 24-10 at the break, Waratahs fans must have had a sense of deja vu.

Cusack was shown a yellow card for repeat infringements six minutes after play resumed but the home side didn’t capitalise on the one-man advantage.

They did capitalise on a charged down Ryan Lonergan box kick when Lalakai Foketi pounced and popped a pass to Harrison.

The five-eighth scored and gave NSW a chance of completing an incredible upset, trailing 24-17 with 14 minutes to play.

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When Ramm scored, it was more than a chance.

But the conversion sailed wide, Harrison cast a forlorn figure and the search for a win continued.

“He’s disappointed. He’s a competitor and he wants to win. And he feels he’s let the team down,” Whitaker said of Harrison.

“But I think everyone has said to him that we had plenty of opportunities to win that game. Goal kickers win you games. They’re not the ones losing you games.

“He will take it hard but that’s because he’s a competitor. That’s why we love him.”

If this match was any guide, the Waratahs won’t have to wait much longer.

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Waratahs chairman Roger Davis returns serve at Rob Penney as Michael Cheika asked for advice


Asked to clarify what was inaccurate or misleading about Penney’s comments, Davis repeated that there was “nothing more to add”.

Even Brumbies coach Dan McKellar went in to bat for Penney on Wednesday, hinting that he had been hard done by.

Waratahs chairman Roger Davis (right).Credit:Glenn Hunt

“I’m not in the inner sanctum there, but there have been some decisions that have been made over the last 18 months to two years that have probably impacted on Rob’s ability to do the job that he wanted to do,” McKellar said. “I feel for him.”

Waratahs supporters have been demanding answers all week from the NSW Rugby board about how the situation could get so out of hand. Penney has claimed he “without a doubt” felt like a scapegoat for issues out of his control.

As NSW prepare to face the Brumbies on Friday, NSW officials are piecing together how to replace Penney and have sounded out a favourite son for guidance.

Sources with knowledge of the situation have told the Herald that NSW Rugby boss Paul Doorn has sought out Cheika, who won a title with the Waratahs in 2014.

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It is understood Doorn wanted to seek Cheika’s view on whether a director of rugby would be appropriate for the Waratahs, as well as getting an understanding of how he thought the coaching structure would work best in the future.

It is unclear whether Cheika would be prepared to step back in and help out at the Waratahs but clearly the conversation shows his opinion is highly valued at a time when the organisation needs all the help it can get.

Doorn said on Monday a decision was some weeks away regarding a new coaching structure and that a head coach would not be appointed for a few months.

McKellar has no doubt candidates from all over the world will be putting their hand up for the vacant Waratahs job.

“I can’t imagine there being too many issues with getting quality candidates,” McKellar said. “Do you want plenty of experience and a high-profile [coach] or do you want someone that knows the Sydney and NSW rugby landscape and someone who can get in there and turn it around and get buy-in from players?

“There’s been plenty of names we all know and have been mentioned that will throw their hat in the ring.”

Asked who he’d have on the list, McKellar replied: “Darren Coleman, Simon Cron, Jason Gilmore is an outstanding coach, Chris Whitaker, John Manenti. There’s a lot of very very good coaches in Australia. We’ve just got to be prepared to provide the right person with an opportunity. Coaches are no different to players; until you give them a chance and opportunity, you’ll never know how good they are.”

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Super Rugby AU: Why Michael Cheika is the one man who can save NSW Waratahs, analysis, latest news


Rob Penney can try all he likes, but only one man can turn the Waratahs’ fortunes around quickly: Michael Cheika.

Eight years ago Cheika, who didn’t seek reappointment following the Wallabies’ quarter-final exit after the 2019 World Cup, transformed the Waratahs from perennial underachievers into champions in his second year in charge.

He joined the Wallabies full-time a year later and since he left the Waratahs have cliff-dived.

On Friday, a fortnight after record defeats to the Reds and Brumbies, the Waratahs slumped to another low as they lost to the Force.

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Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika seeking to offer ‘different view’ for Nine and Stan Sport


Cheika copped plenty of criticism during his time as Wallabies coach, but doesn’t plan on dishing out fire and fury when behind the microphone.

“I think the less judging that goes on while people are on TV or in the media in general the better. That might be the domain of others,” Cheika told the Herald. “For me it will be giving those who are watching a better experience of the game because we want the game to be popular and people to watch it, the ups and the downs.

Cheika arrives at Sydney airport after Australia’s quarter-final exit at the 2019 World Cup. Credit:Renee Nowytarger

“I can’t see myself on the microphone asking questions but giving people who are watching the game a different view on the game and insights into what might be happening in the background and on the field.”

Cheika is joining a commentary team that includes Sean Maloney, former Wallaby Drew Mitchell, All Blacks great Andrew Mehrtens, and anchors Roz Kelly and Nick McArdle. Morgan Turinui, Justin Harrison and Andrew Swain are also on board.

Cheika will be in Nine’s Sydney studios on Friday night for the season opener between the Waratahs – the team he coached to a Super Rugby title in 2014 – and the Reds.

Having been Wallabies coach for the most recent World Cup campaign in 2019, Cheika hopes to provide a unique perspective on Super Rugby, and if he’s commentating on Wallabies matches later in the year.

“[If a] footy player walks out on the field looking not to play well, I know that. I know that from the inside,” Cheika said. “The guys here at Stan and Nine want a really authentic coverage. I don’t think they want commentators guessing on what’s going on or what could be happening or even judging. That’s for others in the performance side of the game. It’s about explaining the game and what could be happening to the viewer, not commenting about the player.

“If I’m lucky enough to sit in on a match that Australia is playing, there’s two teams that we’re talking about. What I think I can give to viewers is an explanation of what people could be thinking, even with the stuff that doesn’t eventuate.

“Often coaches or players want things to happen and they don’t happen because the opposition gets in the way of that. It’s more sometimes about what doesn’t happen.”

Cheika has recently been an assistant coach at the NRL’s Sydney Roosters and helped Argentina’s rugby team during their Tri Nations campaign last year in Australia.

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Campese, a Rugby World Cup winner and Australia’s most prolific try-scorer, used to work for Super Sport in South Africa and is excited by the opportunity to be behind the microphone again.

“I’ve always wanted to be in rugby,” Campese said. “I just think I’m old enough now to understand the game pretty well and just try and give a different aspect. Over the last couple of years I think the game has been neglected in knowledge of the game. I’m not saying the guys who have been there don’t know the game but I’m a bit different.

“Cheika and I have been mates for donkeys through Randwick. He came to Italy and coached. We catch up all over the world.”

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Tri Nations, New Zealand vs Argentina: Squads, how to watch, what time, Sam Cane, Michael Cheika


All Blacks skipper Sam Cane Friday said his team has an extra “edge” about them heading into their crunch clash with Argentina, driven by the “horrible” feeling of two straight defeats.

New Zealand are in the rare situation of trying to avoid three losses in a row, a fate they have not suffered since 1998.

Standing in their way at Newcastle, north of Sydney, on Saturday is an Argentinian side that not only beat them 25-15 in the Tri Nations this month, but followed it up with a battling draw against Australia.

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"I've let the country down"

“I’ve let the country down”

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