Michael Cheika coaching plate ‘overloaded’ with Los Pumas/Lebanon commitments

Michael Cheika coaching plate 'overloaded' with Los Pumas/Lebanon

By method or madness, the Michael Cheika coaching plate is ‘overloaded’ with his coaching commitments to both Los Pumas and the Lebanon rugby league team.

Astonishing in a way, yet bizarre when in the context of how critical the Autumn Nations series is for Argentina, just one year out from a Rugby World Cup in France. So to add to his commitments by aiding the coaching group with Lebanon at the current Rugby League World Cup sounds ludicrous.

Lebanon has qualified for the quarter-finals knockout stages, playing Australia on Friday night (UK time), which is less than 48 hours before Cheika presides as the head coach for Los Pumas when they meet England at Twickenham. So how might the coaching supremo believe he can adequately ‘serve two masters’ simultaneously? He told The Guardian, “it’s about time management.”

Can fans believe him? Should Argentine supporters demand their Director of Rugby be solely responsible for their national team?

Most would say yes, but……when the Michael Cheika coaching playbook is opened, it is scrambled by roles with as many countries, clubs, and Now codes than most observers can count on both hands!!

Michael Cheika coaching plate ‘overloaded’ with Los Pumas/Lebanon commitments

Cheika has already achieved a phenomenal amount for Argentine Rugby in his short tenure. As an assistant, and now as head coach, he has beaten New Zealand three times! An accomplishment that the nation had waited a lifetime for, so Los Pumas fans are grateful (to say the least). Yet their calendar still holds four critical matches against Northern Hemisphere opposition.

With a change to the original schedule, the ‘coaching plate’ of Cheika will be eased, yet it is still daunting by any standards. So if time management is key, how else might he give each squad his unlimited attention? “I know both teams back to front so it’s just about time management. When I’m with one team, I’m fully with them. The scheduling allows me to keep track of things. It’s only this week that my unique situation has gotten a lot of attention.”

And Cheika continued his normal parade of statements that seem to explain how easily he can morph from one sport to the other. He continued, “I think I’m a better coach across both codes as a result of what’s going on. The fundamentals are the same and man-management is transferable too. I might be with one team and think of an attack off first phase ball with the other. But that’s all long-term stuff.”

One key motivation for his involvement with the Lebanon Cedars is his heritage. Born of Lebanese immigrants, Cheika said “From day one it’s been more than just about the footy. It’s about my heritage and making a difference. This is an opportunity to do something special. All the boys in the team feel that. We know we’re representing something bigger than ourselves.”

So while his calendar is so full, even a missed flight or an ‘act of God’ would severely interrupt his planning, Cheika believes he can give the same commitment to each game. Balancing the roles since late 2022, Cheika initiates new and innovative techniques to his coaching plate more often than others might feel comfortable to.

Something he has utilized for Argentina, with assistant coaches with a rugby league background, whose ongoing influence will look to plot the downfall of one of their RWC2023 pool opponents. If Argentina can upset England, and if Lebanon were to do the same to Australia two days prior, it might become the most difficult and busiest position for any coach, since Warren Gatland re-signed as Lions coach while still leading Wales on the International stage.

    • Australia v Lebanon – Rugby League World Cup. Friday, November 5 – Huddersfield

    • England v Argentina – Autumn Nations Series. Sunday, Nov 7 – Twickenham


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