Michael Cheika has a tough assignment leading up to the 2019 World Cup.
Michael Cheika has a tough assignment leading up to the 2019 World Cup.

Woeful Wallabies spark drastic shake-up

RUGBY Australia has appointed Scott Johnson to a new position as director of rugby and he will oversee under-fire Wallabies coach Michael Cheika going into next year's World Cup.

Cheika will report to Johnson, who will return home after a decade working in the USA and Europe, most recently as Scotland's director of coaching. Johnson will also be part of a new three-person Wallabies selection panel with Cheika and another person to be appointed early next year.

RA chairman Cameron Clyne and CEO Raelene Castle announced the changes at a press conference in Sydney on Monday following a review after the Wallabies won just four of 13 Tests in 2018.

The 56-year-old Johnson was Australia's attack coach at the 2007 World Cup under John Connolly but was released in a clear-out of the coaching staff after the Wallabies lost to England in the quarter-finals.

The changes to the Wallabies program comes as Rugby Australia and the four Australian Super Rugby organisations agreed to an aligned national high performance model.


The Wallabies need all the help they can get.
The Wallabies need all the help they can get.

"I am excited to be returning to Rugby Australia in the director of rugby role and I am looking forward to supporting Michael and the Wallabies in their build up to the World Cup," said Johnson, who will take up his new post in mid-March after completing his Six Nations commitments with Scotland.

"I am also looking forward to working with the Super Rugby teams to build an aligned model that will enable sustained success for Super Rugby teams, the Wallabies and ensure we maximise the opportunities for Australian Rugby."

Cheika hailed the move "great" for Australian rugby.

"And I know it will prove to be the best long-term structure for the game in this country," he said.

"I'm looking forward to working with Scott and finishing the work that I started by making Australians proud of our performance."

Cheika's assistant coaches Stephen Larkham, Nathan Grey, Simon Raiwalui and Mick Byrne were also spared the axe despite the Wallabies' worst Test campaign in 60 years.