SYDNEY (AFP) –
Former Leinster coach Michael Cheika was Tuesday named as the man to resurrect struggling Super 15 club New South Wales Waratahs after they finished the season in 11th position.
Cheika said he was eager to turn around the fortunes of the club that lost their last eight games of the season and which former coach Michael Foley left at season’s end to join embattled Western Force.
“The opportunity to coach the Super Rugby team of my home state and the responsibility to make all our supporters and all people from NSW proud of their team is one that motivates me immensely,” he said.
“I am really looking forward to being part of this new era in NSW rugby.”
Waratahs chairman Roger Davis said the choice of the 45-year-old Australian as “an agent of change” was unanimous and Cheika said he wanted to inject more creativity into the attack.
“My heritage comes from playing attacking rugby and that’s something that I want to do (at the Waratahs) and I don’t think you can win big games without scoring tries,” Cheika said.
Cheika ended his playing career with Randwick in 1999 and moved into coaching, taking his first position as head coach of Italian side Petrarca Rugby.
On his return to Australia he guided Randwick to first and second grade Premiership titles in 2004 before moving overseas again to steer Leinster to Celtic League success in 2008 and a Heineken Cup title in 2009.
Until June he was director of rugby with Stade Francais in France.
Cheika ruled out a return of former Wallabies skipper Rocky Elsom, who was named captain of the side at the start of the season but was able to play only two games before injury struck and he was released to seek other contracts.
Cheika holds Elsom in high regard after his contribution to the Leinster side, but said the flanker would not be added to his playing roster.
“I met with Rocky the other day in Europe. I had dinner with him and his family,” Cheika told reporters.
“I think his priority is getting himself fit and healthy so he can get back to the performance levels that he had a few years back.”