WALLABIES COACH MICHAEL Cheika has the backing of his bosses after they pledged their support ahead of next year’s World Cup despite a dismal run of defeats deemed ‘not acceptable’.
Australia have now lost six of their past seven games, and ceded the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand for the 16th consecutive year after a 40-12 hammering in Auckland at the weekend and a 38-13 thrashing in Sydney the week before.
The poor form has put pressure on Cheika, but Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle said he continued to have the support of her and the board.
“He is contracted through to the World Cup and he has a plan — we are across that plan and we are comfortable with it,” she said on the rugby.com.au website.
“But clearly you can’t just ignore the performances — they’re not acceptable.
“So it’s about what we can do to support him as an organisation to make sure he has what he needs to make sure the Wallabies are successful as we move into that World Cup.”
Asked to pinpoint an area she felt needed improvement, Castle nominated the Wallabies defence, which has leaked 78 points in two games.
“There are parts of our game that haven’t performed, particularly around defence,” she said.
“So we will be having conversations around that. But I don’t think it’s about changing what we’ve got. It’s about what else can we bring.”
World Cup-winning coach Bob Dwyer said fitness was also an issue, blaming the players and not the coaching set-up for their recent woes.
“I’m sure they’re not fit enough,” Dwyer, who led Australia to their first rugby World Cup title in 1991, told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“In Sydney there were people walking with half an hour to go. You can’t really pin that on the Wallaby coaching set-up.”