The Wallabies have won just four of 13 Tests this year under coach Michael Cheika. Picture: AP
The Wallabies have won just four of 13 Tests this year under coach Michael Cheika. Picture: AP

Secret call to replace Cheika

A confidential phone hook-up with South Africa's former World Cup-winning coach Jake White is planned for Thursday in the first sign that anxious Rugby Australia bosses have been forced to consider sacking Michael Cheika.

Sources have indicated that Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle and board members will take the major step of speaking to White to assess what he has to offer as a possible alternative.

Cheika's dreadful four-win year from 13 Tests has made his four-year hold on the Wallabies' coaching job tenuous at best.

Castle gave Cheika her backing before the recent tour to Japan and Europe but the tryless loss to Wales in Cardiff, an uninspiring win over Italy and the 37-18 loss to England at Twickenham were body blows to his cause.

White is coaching the club side Toyota Verblitz in Japan but the country has cleared 2019 of Top League commitments before the hosting of the Rugby World Cup from September-November.

Theoretically, it frees up White to take on the coaching of a Test side again, a long-held ambition that surely would have prompted him writing such a get-out clause in his Japanese contract anyway if someone came knocking.

White, who guided the Springboks to their 2007 World Cup triumph in Japan, is believed to have a high-profile former Wallaby on his ticket too.

Rugby Australia is just over a week away from its last board meeting of the year where any emergency surgery to remove Cheika or keep him would have to be dissected.

Appraising White's case makes sense if only to find out if there is a credentialled, proven Test coach out there who is an interim alternative to Cheika.

This is no normal job description. There are only 10 months and five Tests of preparation until the Wallabies kick-off the World Cup against Fiji in Sapporo on September 21.

Can a new coach of experience like White rush enough progress into the squad in that time or are the Wallabies' too far down the track with Cheika to make a change to get a better result?

Cheika already has a World Cup training camp planned for January and is well advanced in discussions with Super Rugby coaches about managing the workloads of top players and common strength and conditioning goals.


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