One of our favourite Australians here at balls is Seanny Maloney of Rugby HQ. The same Seanny Maloney that brought us the wonderful Top 5 moments and the plays of the week. With the Australians coming to town this week, we'd thought that we'd honour Seanny with some top 5's of our own, continuing with the Top 5 Michael Cheika moments.
5. Wallabies Coach
His tenure as Australian coach is only just beginning, so it's hard to say whether he will be a success or not. He's been put in a difficult situation with the World Cup a year out and with all the controversy attached to the Wallabies at the moment. Nevertheless, to be named as the coach of your country is a huge honour, and the above video shows how he got to that stage.
4. Golf Clubs
This team talk while holding a golf club gesturing at his players looks menacing, but the story behind it is actually very interesting. This was in the Super Rugby semi final pre match address against the Brumbies. The craziness of brandishing a driver in front of the players must have worked as they reached the final a week later.
To mark the occasion, Cheika gave his players a club each on the final, urging them to tee off. As Kurtley Beale explains while talking to foxsports in Australia:
All year he’s been telling us to go out there and let the clubs go, basically saying go out there and trust your instinct, back your gut-feeling and deliver a really good performance. With symbols like the [golf] club, and letting it go and really swinging it and not giving a damn about anything else, it’s really rubbed off on a lot of players.
Each club had a player's name on it and an individual nickname, like Sekope Kepu's below whose nickname is Bertha.
— Alex Broun (@alexanderbroun) August 2, 2014
3. Broken Window
There's no denying that Michael Cheika is passionate, and sometimes when things go wrong, he may get angry sometimes. Hopefully in the Aviva Stadium on Satuday things go wrong for the Aussies, and the Aviva staff had the foresight to get some insurance in the coaches box in case this happens again.
2. Turning the 'Tahs around
The Waratahs before Cheika were very similar to how Colin Farrell's character "Ray" in "In Bruges" compares Tottenham to purgatory - not really shit, but not all that great either. They were perenially talked up every year, and supplied the majority of players to the Australian squad. However, every year it would go wrong and they would always miss out on the playoffs.
There was an improvement when Cheika arrived, and even though they missed out on the playoffs again in his first year, the signs were good going forward. In his second year, they went off like a bull in a china shop and stormed to the top of the Australian conference, and ended up beating the Crusaders in the final with the narrowest of margins.
He's brought through some wonderful players like Bernard Foley, Will Skelton; he's got the most out of players by switching their position like Rob Horne or Kurtley Beale, and he's released Israel Folau on the world, all in just two years. The video above shows how he did it.
1. Bringing Leinster from 'Ladyboys' to European Champions
His success at the Waratahs wasn't the first time Cheika turned around a team that was lacking direction and lead them to their first meaningful silverware in a long time. As us Irish know well, Michael Cheika was an unknown before arriving at Leinster. He had no coaching experience and no international playing experience.
Despite this lack of experience, Cheika brought a professionalism to Leinster that had been lacking, and his methods managed to convince the likes of Brian O'Driscoll to stay in Leinster. What would follow was gradual improvement over the next few years, before Leinster showed mental toughness in 2009 to overcome the likes of Harlequins, Munster and Leicester to win their first Heineken Cup.
Thank you Michael Cheika, you'll always be remembered fondly on these shores.