Wallabies job toughest in Australian sport

Michael Cheika's reign as Wallabies coach is over and his successor will find it a tough gig.
Michael Cheika's reign as Wallabies coach is over and his successor will find it a tough gig.

Unless he can find a formula that's eluded many of world rugby's best coaches, the next Wallabies mentor will be on a hiding to nothing, just like Michael Cheika was.

And like Ewen McKenzie was before Cheika, and Robbie Deans before McKenzie.

Coaching the Wallabies is the toughest gig in Australian sport because the Wallabies, rather unfairly, are the most harshly-marked national sporting team in the country.

Even when they're ranked second in the world, which for much of the past 15 years they have been, the Wallabies are on the nose.

Unless they're regularly beating the mighty All Blacks, which no team has managed since Australia's glory days under Rod Macqueen at the turn of the century, the Wallabies are critiqued like no other.

The Kangaroos can lose four rugby league Tests in a row to New Zealand and still be considered the world's best.

The Diamonds can lose heartbreaker after heartbreaker to the Silver Ferns and are still deemed to be a cut above netball's best.

Only Sandpaper-gate could knock Australia's cricketers off their pedestal.

The Socceroos? Well, they can win an Asian Cup and be ranked 41st in the world, as they are now, and still be idolised.

But only World Cup glory or the return of the Bledisloe Cup is good enough for Wallabies fans.

Yes it's time for Cheika to go after his turbulent five-year reign ended in humiliation with the clueless Wallabies now ranked seventh in the world, behind even Japan.

Yes, the next coach will surely improve the Wallabies because they can hardly get any worse.

But unless they're beating the All Blacks and winning rugby's major trophies, the Wallabies's next coach will depart the job viewed as a failure just like one-time world coach of the year Cheika, McKenzie, Deans, John Connolly and Eddie Jones were.

Jones has worked wonders with England and Japan and even helped Jake White win the 2007 World Cup with South Africa.

He took Australia to World Cup final extra time in 2003, but could never fill the golden boots of Macqueen.

"Let the good times roll " was the headline when Connolly was ushered in after Jones.

Instead his head was rolled after just two years, about the length of Deans's honeymoon period.

Australian rugby's first foreign coach enjoyed the longest tenure - and most successful since Macqueen - in Wallabies coaching history.

Yet Deans was savagely shown the door midway through a series against the touring British and Irish Lions, with the showdown locked at one Test apiece.

McKenzie, like Deans before him and Cheika after him, was also welcomed as Australian rugby's saviour before his premature reign ended in despair.

Dave Rennie, the frontrunner to replace Cheika, is similarly already being feted as the man to revive the Wallabies' fortunes.

But the Kiwi, or whoever takes the job, will be asked the very same question at his opening press conference as Wallabies coach.

"What makes you think your reign will end up any different to the last few Wallabies coaches?"

The answer won't matter.

Only results - read beating New Zealand consistently - matter for the Wallabies.

Australian Associated Press