Australian coach Michael Cheika looks on during a training session
Australian coach Michael Cheika looks on during a training session PAUL MILLER

ARU gives Cheika backing as Wallabies coach

RUGBY UNION: The ARU has backed Michael Cheika to coach the Wallabies through until at least the 2019 World Cup, despite the national side suffering more defeats in 2016 than any other year.

ARU chief executive Bill Pulver said Cheika was under no pressure after the Wallabies lost nine of their 15 Tests in 2016.

The 40% winning rate was the lowest since Eddie Jones oversaw a 5-8 record (38%) in 2005.

"Believe me, Michael Cheika is under no pressure. None whatsoever,” Pulver said.

"He's the coach through to 2019, and there's no one better to do the job.

"I'm not pleased to have lost nine Test matches. And boy, let me tell you, Cheika isn't either.

"But there are really encouraging signs in terms of talent coming through.”

Pulver points to the fact that Cheika has blooded 13 new Wallabies this year.

"If you look at this as a long-term game towards the 2019 World Cup, I think rugby fans are quietly comfortable with the way we're developing players,” he said.

Seven of the Wallabies' losses this year came against the top two rugby nations - New Zealand and England.

"We never like to call it a rebuilding year, because we take every Test match seriously,” Pulver said.

"One of Michael's focus points is to make sure you've got multiple players competing for the one position, and that leads to better performances and outcomes, and I think we're getting there.

"We've now got at least two players vying for every position.”

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