30 Nov 2018

Rugby: Don't chuck Cheika, O'Driscoll warns Wallabies

5:54 pm on 30 November 2018

The Ireland and Lions legend Brian O'Driscoll has called on Rugby Australia to stick with Michael Cheika, saying it would be "very dangerous" to change coaches so close to the World Cup.

Under Cheika, the Wallabies have recorded their worst season in 50 years, winning just four out of 13 Tests.

This has led to Rugby Australia launching a review of the current Wallabies set-up, with the finding to be presented to the board on December 10.

But with just five more Tests before the Wallabies open their 2019 World Cup campaign in Sapporo against Fiji on September 21, O'Driscoll has called for Cheika to remain in the top job.

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll

Former Ireland captain Brian O'Driscoll Photo: Photosport

"It's a very dangerous place to start replacing your coach less than 10 months out from the World Cup," said O'Driscoll.

"If someone can turn it around Michael Cheika can - he was one coach after five years I never got bored of listening to."

Cheika coached O'Driscoll at Leinster from 2005-10, claiming a PRO14 title in 2008 and the province's first European Champions Cup title in 2009.

Although O'Driscoll is adamant Cheika should stay in charge of the Wallabies, he did hint that changes in his management team could be a possibility.

"Whether he has to change some personnel in his back-room staff to bring a bit of freshness in, I don't know," the 39-year-old said.

"But I've got a lot to admire in Michael Cheika."

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Michael Cheika. Photo: PHOTOSPORT

"He'll be finding it tough but he's also a glass half-full sort of guy where he'll feel he can turn it around in a short space of time and do something that the Australian public and rugby world don't think is achievable, and possibly get to another World Cup final."

Cheika led Australia to the 2015 World Cup final in London where they were defeated by the All Blacks 34-17.

O'Driscoll is still in touch with Cheika, and says rugby fans have the wrong impression of the volatile Wallabies boss.

"He's one of the coaches that I probably remain in contact with," O'Driscoll said.

"I haven't been talking to him for awhile but any time he'd be in town or we'd be in the same city I'd always try and catch dinner with him.

"I'm very very fond of him and he's a fun, normal guy. What you see banging on panes of glass in coaching boxes - is not the Michael Cheika that I know.

"He's obviously very passionate and wants to win, and he's got a real sense of desire in what he does, otherwise he wouldn't have been as successful as he has been."