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Cheika appointed Waratahs coach


Georgina Robinson

Three-year deal ... new Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika.

Three-year deal ... new Waratahs head coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Brendan Esposito

Michael Cheika is the new coach of the Waratahs after signing a three-year deal with the NSW province.

He met with players this morning before being presented to the media alongside Waratahs Rugby chairman Roger Davis and club chief executive Jason Allen.

Cheika, 45, who was most recently involved with French club Stade Francais and coached Irish province Leinster to a Heineken Cup victory in 2009, said he saw great potential in the Waratahs squad.

"I'm not doing coaching as a job, I'm doing it as something that I really love to do ... and I liked the potential of creating something here at the Waratahs and in NSW that I think will last longer than just the few years we've got now," he said.

"There's so much potential in the playing stocks - not just in the current squad but also around Sydney rugby and country rugby ... Not all clubs, whether they be here in Australia or in Europe, have that potential and that was very important in my selection decision."

Cheika left Stade Francais in May and was linked to the Western Force coaching role, left vacant by the departure of Richard Graham to the Reds, before agreeing to a deal with NSW.

Before his stint in France the former Randwick No.8 coached Leinster to its Heineken Cup triumph and to victory in the Celtic League in 2008. In Sydney he played more than 300 games for the Galloping Greens, winning seven Shute Shields before coaching the club to the title in 2004.

During his five years with Leinster, Cheika recruited former Waratahs and Wallabies captain Rocky Elsom and former Randwick coach Alan Gaffney to the province. It is expected that Gaffney, who joined the Waratahs from the Ireland team at the end of last year, will stay on in an assistant coaching role.

Cheika succeeds Michael Foley in the top job at Moore Park. Foley joined the Force last month after a troubled season, during which the Waratahs won just four Super Rugby games and lost 12 games.

Davis said the board was unanimous in selecting Cheika after agreeing they wanted someone Australian and who could "transform" the culture of the Waratahs.

‘‘In addition to a wealth of domestic and international coaching experience, Michael has a proven track record as an inspirational leader and an agent of change,’’ Davis said.

‘‘We believe he is the right man to embrace the Waratahs’ great tradition and ambition and develop a strong and successful culture that embraces all our supporters, partners and stakeholders.’’

NSW capitulated to their worst-ever Super Rugby season in 2012, but Cheika said he was looking forward to the challenge of turning the struggling franchise around.

‘‘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.

‘‘My immediate goal is to establish our identity loud and clear, inside and outside of the team; who we are, how we are going to play the game and what we are prepared to do to earn the respect of our teammates, our supporters and our competitors, as individuals and as a team.

‘‘By achieving this we will earn the right to think about getting some good results.’’

with AAP


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