22 Oct 2014

Cheika to lead Wallabies

3:00 pm on 22 October 2014

Michael Cheika has been confirmed as the new coach of the Wallabies by the Australian Rugby Union, four days after Ewen McKenzie dramatically quit the job.

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika Photo: PHOTOSPORT

Cheika led the New South Wales Waratahs to the Super Rugby title last season, completing a unique coaching double after he guided Irish province Leinster to a Heineken Cup triumph in 2009.

The 47-year-old will see out the final year of his contract at the Waratahs, combining the Super Rugby title defence with preparing the Wallabies for next year's World Cup in England.

The ARU was keen to appoint a coach before the squad departs on Friday for their tour of Europe, which features a match against the invitational Barbarians and tests against Wales, France, Ireland and England.

McKenzie quit a few hours before the Wallabies lost 29-28 to New Zealand in Brisbane on Saturday in the midst of a crisis caused by utility back Kurtley Beale allegedly sending offensive text messages to a team official.

The affair caused two weeks of turmoil at the ARU and Beale still looks likely to have his contract torn up if he is found guilty of the charges.

Cheika brought Beale back to New South Wales last season, where he excelled at second five for the Waratahs, in particular as a foil for prolific fullback Israel Folau.

With Wallabies skipper Michael Hooper among a significant core of Waratahs players in the Australia squad, Cheika will be confident he can reproduce the thrilling style of running rugby that lit up Super Rugby this year.

That Cheika is still the subject of a suspended six-month ban for abusing a TV camera-man on the sidelines of a Super Rugby match in South Africa in March is a reminder that he can be a volatile as well as effective coach.