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Why ex-Wallabies coach Cheika could handle NRL switch

3 minute read

Trent Robinson says Michale Cheika would be up to the task of trying his hand at day-to-day club coaching in the NRL.

TRENT ROBINSON.
TRENT ROBINSON. Picture: Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Trent Robinson has dismissed concerns over Michael Cheika's ability to one day switch codes, as the former Wallabies coach continues to be linked with a move to the NRL with Parramatta.

The Eels, who host Robinson's Sydney Roosters side on Saturday, have yet to find a replacement for Brad Arthur after sacking the long-term coach last month.

While assistants Jason Ryles (Melbourne) and Josh Hannay (Cronulla) have led the charge for the vacancy, Cheika's name has also been mentioned.

Cheika left his position as head coach of Argentina late last year, his last major role in a decorated resume in rugby union.

He also has experience in league having worked under Robinson at the Roosters and coaching a Lebanon side spearheaded by Eels halfback Mitchell Moses to the quarter-finals of the 2022 Rugby League World Cup.

While some may fear Cheika's lack of expertise in the 13-man game, Robinson said the 57-year-old's man-management skills meant he could handle the challenge.

"His ability to get players to play to their potential and beyond (is vast) and I think he's shown that in many jobs that he's had around the world," Robinson said.

"There's enough people in the game to know the real technical nuances.

"But handling people day in day out has been a strength of 'Cheik' in lots of different countries in lots of different languages.

"They're harder (skills) to find and they're the things that big clubs need at different times.

"He's definitely well equipped and he's grown up with rugby league, loves the game and coached Lebanon successfully.

"It's a risk when it comes to the rugby league knowledge, but it's not when it comes to man-management, I think he's laid his resume on the line many times."

Since rugby union became openly professional in 1995, coaching talent has been a near one-way road out of league with the likes of Ireland coach Andy Farrell and France boss Shaun Edwards at the forefront of that movement.

But Robinson believes that flow of coaching minds is as a result of league clubs being too risk averse.

"We're pretty conservative when it comes to the hiring and the cycling of people," Robinson said.

"There's two things that players want out of coaches - technical and tactical knowledge and man-management.

"So how do you hire a group around that with 'Cheik?' You get the man-management there ... they know what they'd be hiring with 'Cheik'.

"They don't need to ask him about man-management, they can look at the way that he's handled that over the course of 30 years of coaching."

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