Thursday 19 April 2018

Michael Cheika gives a surprising response to New Zealand trying to poach young Aussie talent

Will Slattery

Will Slattery

Given Michael Cheika's history, this wasn't the response that you expect.

The Wallabies coach is known for his fiery disposition but in recent months he has been less inclined to lose his temper when provoked.

He was heavily criticised by All Blacks coach Steve Hansen for letting Eddie Jones 'win' the war of words during England's 3-0 whitewash of Australia last month, with Cheika content to let his compatriot enjoy free reign in the media.

That softer outlook has continued recently, with the former Leinster boss giving a surprising response to an interesting New Zealand ploy.

According to the Australian Telegraph, the Chiefs hosted a recruitment training session for two dozen New Zealand eligible Australians when they travelled to Queensland this week for their Super Rugby fixture against the Reds.

Whereas the Telegraph called the Chiefs' idea 'one of the most brazen trans-Tasman recruitment ploys in history', the Australian coach was far, far more diplomatic.

"I don't see it as an issue," Cheika told Tony Veitch on Newstalk ZB.

"For us, we need to have had contact with a lot of those players, and they need to have been in our system - where they want to stay. You can't have it both ways, you can't have these guys when it suits you, but then not want them to be taken away either."

"Recruitment across professional sport is probably the number one priority. It's a smart move by the Chiefs."

It remains to be seen if the Chiefs are successful in luring any Australian talent across to New Zealand - perhaps Cheika will change his measured tone if his team begin to get beaten by players who should be homegrown success stories.

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