Under-pressure Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has moved on from attacking England rugby coach Eddie Jones by turning his attentions to another former Randwick teammate — Glen Ella.
Ella told the Daily Mail that Cheika would be having nightmares about losing again to Jones following the 3-0 series whitewash in Australia earlier this year.
But Cheika, who has been in attack mode all week as the Wallabies build to a huge clash with England this weekend, appears to have had enough, especially after dreams of a grand slam were dashed by a 24-27 loss to Ireland in Dublin.
Ella was part of Jones’ backroom team during the June series and although he is no longer part of the England set-up, Cheika did not hold back when asked about his comments.
“It’s funny, you know everyone’s up the front of the bus when they’ve had a win, a guy like Glen in particular,” Cheika said.
“He’s always up the front of the bus for a handout when he’s had a win.
“But when it’s tough and you’ve got to run uphill, haven’t seen that bloke or haven’t seen a few of those blokes around.
“I don’t think he’s working with England anymore but any Aussie that would be supporting England against Australia, especially a guy that has played for the Wallabies, there’s got to be a reason why.
“I don’t know if he’s bitter. Maybe they want to get us kicked out and have a job there, I’m not sure.”
Ella had written in an online column for Sportsta.me that “this game has been brewing since Eddie left Australia with the silverware in June, against all odds.
“Cheika desperately wants it back because at the moment there isn’t that much in the cabinets at the ARU.”
— Glen Ella (@glen_ella) December 2, 2016
After his memorable end to 2015 when he took an unfancied team to the World Cup final, Cheika is facing the first major test of his international coaching tenure.
Defeat at Twickenham would mean he ends the year with a record of six defeats and nine losses from 15 matches, but he said if he were to be sacked, he could not ever see a day when he would coach against Australia.
“I’m upset about losing at the time of course, yeah, and then you get over it,” he said.
“But for the year as a whole? I think we’ve improved and we’re going well and we’ll stay working on our things and when the bigger tournaments come around we’ll see if that plan worked out or not for both sides.
“If a person decides to do that (coach against Australia), that’s OK.
“No one was saying anything bad when Eddie was coaching Japan. You’ve got to keep that level. It’s your approach to your old team. Each to their own.”
Jones kicked off some verbal sparring between the two former Randwick teammates by insisting last Saturday there were issues with the legality of the Wallabies scrum.
Cheika returned serve by claiming Jones had tarnished his legacy in Australia by constantly attacking his native country and also questioning the style of England prop Dan Cole.
Despite the barbs, Cheika said he respected Jones and said playing the media was all part of the veteran coach’s plan
“He’s just geeing up. I remember when he was coaching Queensland and they were 0-and-13 and they got beaten by 95 in South Africa,” he said.
“There was a bit of grief for a day or two but then no one was pointing the finger at him forever.
“He’s respected for that by me as a former teammate of his and as a player. I think you saw when he was in Australia that he got a lot of respect.”
– with AAP