Michael Cheika, explained one observer this week, is something of a paradox. ‘He looks like a thug and he can occasionally behave like one, but he’s actually a very intelligent, sensitive guy. And he’s a very good coach.’
My source requested that he remain anonymous for fear of possible retribution from the bruising, yet seemingly quite brilliant head coach of Australia. But Eddie Jones, the coach of Japan, former coach of the Wallabies and someone who played alongside Cheika in the same great Randwick side of the late Eighties, has no such concerns.
‘He was a decent player - but an outstanding sledger,’ said Jones of Cheika. ‘Excellent with the lip, mate, and a really good guy to play with.’
Renowned for their flair but also their aggression, that Randwick side boasted some real characters. As well as Cheika and Jones, the Ella brothers, Simon Poidevin and David Campese also featured. Jones likens them to ‘the great Australian cricket teams’.