Michael Cheika says juggling two high-profile jobs as head coach of Argentina’s rugby union team and Lebanon’s rugby league side has been “pretty seamless” as he gears up for two huge matches within 48 hours.
Cheika named the Pumas team for their weekend clash against England at Twickenham on Friday, just hours before Lebanon face his native Australia in the last eight of the Rugby World Cup in Huddersfield.
Cheika, the son of Lebanese immigrants, said travelling between the two camps had not proved difficult.
“It hasn’t been as stressful as it could have been,” he said in an online press conference. “It’s been pretty seamless.”
“It’s been a good experience for me personally. One of the huge things for me always has been making sure I do the two things to the best of my ability and make sure both teams have the best possible opportunity. I feel like we’ve handled it pretty well.”
Cheika said he had hired a car and also booked a flight in the early hours of Saturday morning as a back-up to ensure he could make it back to southwest London, where Argentina are based.
“Either way I’ll be there for training tomorrow,” he said. “I’ll be sweet – all bases are covered.”
Argentina, who finished bottom of the southern hemisphere’s Rugby Championship despite impressive wins against Australia and the All Blacks, are seeking just their second victory over England at Twickenham and their first in 16 years.
Sunday’s match has been given added significance by the fact England and Argentina are in the same pool at next year’s Rugby World Cup in France.
“We are going to be World Cup competitors in less than a year’s time but that is for further down the road,” said Cheika.
“We are trying to create some firsts – winning at Twickenham would be a first for many of our players.”
The Australian will renew his rivalry with England coach and compatriot Eddie Jones, a former team-mate at Sydney rugby union club Randwick.
Both men have coached Australia, with Jones in charge of the Wallabies when they lost the 2003 World Cup final and then England’s boss when they defeated Cheika’s Australia in the quarter-finals of the 2019 edition in Japan.
“I invited him (Jones) up to the Cedars’ (Lebanon) training,” said Cheika. “He wasn’t able to come to training but he came and sat with our coaches, we all had a sit-down breakfast one morning and shared a few ideas.
“He loves league, I suppose like I do. He’s been following that tournament pretty closely, I’ve been receiving plenty of good advice. But this week will be a little bit different.
“I always look forward to putting myself up against one of the great coaches and also a good mate.”
Play on Sunday starts at 16:15 SA time.
15 Freddie Steward, 14 Joe Cokanasiga, 13 Manu Tuilagi, 12 Owen Farrell (c), 11 Jack Nowell, 10 Marcus Smith, 9 Ben Youngs, 8 Billy Vunipola, 7 Tom Curry, 6 Maro Itoje, 5 Jonny Hill, 4 Alex Coles, 3 Kyle Sinckler, 2 Luke Cowan-Dickie, 1 Ellis Genge
Substitutes: 16 Jack Singleton, 17 Mako Vunipola, 18 Joe Heyes, 19 Dave Ribbans, 20 Sam Simmonds 21 Jack Willis, 22 Jack van Poortvliet, 23 Henry Slade
15 Juan Cruz Mallia; 14 Mateo Carreras, 13 Matias Moroni, 12 Jeronimo de la Fuente, 11 Emiliano Boffelli; 10 Santiago Carreras, 9 Gonzalo Bertranou; 8 Pablo Matera, 7 Marcos Kremer, 6 Juan Martin Gonzalez; 5 Tomas Lavanini, 4 Matias Alemanno, 3 Francisco Gomez Kodela, 2 Julian Montoya (captain), 1 Thomas Gallo
Substitutes: 16 Ignacio Ruiz, 17 Nahuel Tetaz Chaparro, 18 Eduardo Bello, 19 Lucas Paulos, 20 Facunda Isa, 21 Eliseo Morales, 22 Tomas Albornoz, 23 Matias Orlando
Discussion about this post