TOKYO (AFP) – Wallabies coach Michael Cheika described England football manager Gareth Southgate as a friend and a “lovely chap” yesterday, but said he didn’t need his help for this week’s Rugby World Cup quarter-final.
Cheika was speaking after England, coached by his former Randwick clubmate Eddie Jones, brought Australia dual rugby international and rugby league coach Ricky Stuart into their camp ahead of Saturday’s clash between the old rivals.
“Yeah the boys told me that. Obviously they would be mates I imagine, so it’s all good,” Cheika said.
“It’d be like, I’m friends with Gareth Southgate, I don’t know if I’d be wanting him in here the week that we’re playing England.
“It must be weird for the players having an Aussie because Ricky is a legend.”
Expanding on his friendship with Southgate, known for the waistcoats he wore pitchside at last year’s football World Cup, Cheika said their paths crossed at a conference for coaches in Minnesota.
“There were a few of us from Australia, a few Brits, a few different guys around,” said Cheika, who built a successful fashion business before becoming a top-level coach.
“We had a great old time. He was a lovely chap, I really like his style. He’s a good man.”
Australia have lost their last six rugby Tests against England, but Cheika said past form was “irrelevant” heading into Saturday’s game in Oita.
“I’m just a believer. Call me a sucker. I believe in my lads,” he said.
“I know there’s other people who won’t give us much of a chance but I believe that when you believe in yourself you are much closer to being able to create history.”