Rugby: Not the time to return to Waratahs, says ex-coach Cheika

FILE PHOTO: Rugby Union - Rugby World Cup 2019 - Quarter Final - England v Australia - Oita Stadium, Oita, Japan - October 19, 2019 Australia head coach Michael Cheika during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Peter Cziborra

(Reuters) - Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has ruled out a return to the NSW Waratahs to replace recently sacked coach Rob Penney at the helm of the struggling Super Rugby AU side.

The Waratahs are winless so far in this year's competition after losing on Friday to the ACT Brumbies in the first game led by co-coaches Jason Gilmore and Chris Whitaker following Penney's firing last week.

Penney was removed from his position after overseeing five straight defeats, but Cheika does not believe a return to the team he led to the 2014 Super Rugby title would be the right move.

“I think that it’s not the time for me to be coaching the Waratahs,” Cheika, who coached the team from 2013 to 2015, told Stan Sport.

“It’s maybe a little bit too fresh [and] raw.

"Also, from a national point of view, they don’t need me in that space probably at this point. They [Wallabies coaches] need some clean air...without the name from the last four or five years because it’s been a huge thing for me."

Cheika admitted he had held informal talks with Waratahs chief executive Paul Doorn and that he will remain available to advise if asked.

“We’ve had a casual conversation,” Cheika said.

“I don’t think my ideas are the ultimate ideas. I just gave a few ideas of what I’ve experienced in the past and what’s worked for us and what might work for NSW and understanding its DNA a little bit more.

“I’d do anything to help them get back on track. It was a wonderful experience coaching NSW, I loved every minute of it, the highs and the lows. I think we can get back to that pretty quickly with this team.

“They have made some decisions now and they need to show some leadership going forward to get them right.”

(Reporting by Michael Church in Hong Kong, Editing by David Gregorio)

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