'Spectacular' Cheika to help Argentina in Rugby Championship

Sydney (AFP) –


Former Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has signed on to help Argentina in the Rugby Championship, the South Americans said Friday, putting him in competition with his old team.

Los Pumas said Cheika, who quit after the Wallabies' humiliating World Cup quarter-final loss to England last year, would work as an external adviser during the tournament in Australia.

"We started talking with Michael at the beginning of the year," Argentina coach Mario Ledesma said in a statement.

"I suggested to him the idea of working together again and he was immediately interested... he has always been very fond of Argentine rugby".

The Rugby Championship will be played in one country for the first time this year because of the Covid-19 pandemic and Ledesma said part of Cheika's job was suggesting training locations and schedules.

The move comes despite Cheika, 53, saying in May that he could not envisage himself coaching against the Wallabies.

"I've always felt that I couldn't ever go back and coach against a team I've already coached. I feel that's almost being a traitor," he said at the time.

Ledesma has previously worked as forwards coach under Cheika at the Wallabies, when Australia reached the 2015 World Cup final, and at State Francais before that.

He said Chieka had an ability to think "outside the box".

"We have already had several discussions with him and all the staff about the game, defence, attack, types of exercises, individual techniques, etc," he said.

"So the exchange has been spectacular."

Argentina are yet to finalise travel plans for the tournament, which will be held in November-December.