Michael Cheika confirmed as Australia coach in place of Ewen McKenzie

Former Leinster coach signs three-year deal but will remain with Waratahs until end of year

Michael Cheika answers a question at a news conference where he was announced as the new Australian  coach in Sydney. Photograpgh:  Jason Reed/Reuters

Michael Cheika answers a question at a news conference where he was announced as the new Australian coach in Sydney. Photograpgh: Jason Reed/Reuters

 

Michael Cheika has been appointed as the new Australia head coach.

The Australian Rugby Union (ARU) announced a three-year contract for the former Leinster and Stade Francais boss, whose appointment follows Ewen McKenzie’s resignation last weekend.

Cheika. 47, will be in charge for the Wallabies’ European tour, which starts against the Barbarians at Twickenham on November 1st and is followed by Test matches against Wales, France, Ireland and England.

Cheika, who will also remain as New South Wales Waratahs head coach until the end of this year, had been a hot favourite to fill the role vacated by McKenzie.

McKenzie’s final game in charge was a 29-28 defeat against world champions New Zealand in Sydney last Saturday.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said: “Central to our decision was selecting a world-class coach who can lead us to victory in next year’s Rugby World Cup, and a person who represents rugby’s core values.

“Michael fulfils these requirements. He is also extremely passionate and has a strong track record of motivating teams to win through plenty of hard work.

“I am confident he will embrace this new challenge, and on behalf of the Australian rugby community I would like to congratulate him on his appointment.

Cheika added: “I never imagined I would be in the position of coaching our national team, and I feel extremely honoured to have this opportunity.

“My mission will be to do the best possible job I can and to motivate the people around me to ensure they are able to represent Australia to the best of their ability.

“I feel the key to any future success will be to ensure we have a strong identity and not letting anything get in the way of our preparation to succeed on the world stage.”

A 33-man squad, meanwhile, has been announced for the European tour, which includes the return from injury of Matt Toomua and Ben McCalman, but Scott Fardy has been ruled out after undergoing knee surgery.

The squad includes five uncapped players in wings Harry Speight and Tom English, centre Kyle Godwin, prop Tetera Faulkner and backrow forward Sean McMahon.

Australia squad for European tour: A Ashley-Cooper, B Alexander, S Carter, Q Cooper, T English, S Fainga’a, T Faulkner, I Folau, B Foley, W Genia, K Godwin, J Hanson , S Higginbotham, M Hodgson, M Hooper (capt), R Horne, J Horwill, L Jones, S Kepu, T Kuridrani, C Leali’ifano, J Mann-Rea, B McCalman, S McMahon, N Phipps, B Robinson, R Simmons, W Skelton, J Slipper, H Speight, J Tomane, M Toomua, N White.

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