Gregan backs Cheika to continue as Wallabies coach

Australia endured a difficult 2016

Gregan backs Cheika to continue as Wallabies coach

Paul O'Connell of Ireland is tackled by George Gregan of Australia. Image: ©INPHO/Morgan Treacy

Australian rugby legend George Gregan has backed Michael Cheika to continue in his role as head coach of the national side.

Cheika's side endured a difficult 2016, losing their June test series to England 3-0 before winning three and losing three in the Rugby Championship. They also fell 3-0 to rivals New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup.

They won three out of their five northern hemisphere tour matches in November losing only to Ireland and England.

World Cup winner Gregan however has backed the under-fire Cheika. Speaking to the New Zealand Herald he said: "The Wallabies came close in 2015 but no cigar. I thought 2016 was going to be moving year. It was moving year but not in the right direction, but I think it's just tough at the top. They played four tests against England, three against the All Blacks.

"You just have to get better, there's no secret formula. There's no sugar-coating it. There's no one who is going to be head coach if Cheika is not there. We made a knee-jerk reaction to a poor season in 2005 and got rid of Eddie [Jones]. Michael Cheika has a true direction as to where he wants this team to go," he added.

Australian International George Gregan who was elected to the IRB Hall of Fame with Michael Hawker and IRB Chairman Bernard Lapasset. Image: ©INPHO/Billy Stickland

Referencing the 2007 World Cup in France, when New Zealand exited at the quater-final stage but decided to keep Graham Henry in charge, he said: "In 2007, when [New Zealand] got knocked out by France, who had the cojones to stay with the same coaches? That was a big call and that proved a gutsy call.

"I think we have the players. New Zealand will always have great players. It's a matter of developing a way we play which isn't New Zealand or South Africa. That's not easy in test match rugby, but [Cheika] has a true idea of how he wants to play," he added.