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'Everyone's probably scared sh*tless of him' - Sexton on Cheika's coaching methods

The Ireland out-half was full of praise for his former provincial boss.

Johnny Sexton and Michael Cheika during their time together with Leinster.
Johnny Sexton and Michael Cheika during their time together with Leinster.
Image: Inpho/James Crombie

- Rory Keane reports from London.

AUSTRALIA MADE A statement to the rest of the rugby world on Saturday night.

Michael Cheika’s side ripped a callow and naïve England side apart on their home turf at Twickenham. As Stuart Lancaster’s troops headed for the exit door, the rest of the competing countries could only sit back and marvel at the pace and invention of the Bernard Foley-inspired Australians.

From their hotel in London, Jonathan Sexton and his Ireland team-mates watched the Wallabies throw down the gauntlet to the rest of the tournament’s participants.

The transformation of the Wallabies under Cheika over the past 12 months has been stunning, and Sexton is not one bit surprised with the former Leinster coach’s success.

“I was texting him last week,” said Sexton. “I still send the odd text to him. He wished me luck at the start of the World Cup and I was the same.

“We’ve always got on very well and I was delighted to see him, he’s proved what a good coach he is. He’s turned around Leinster, he’s turned around New South Wales and he’s turned around Australia, they look like a really formidable team, they look like one of the favourites to go on and win the World Cup now.

“So fair play to him and hopefully I’ll catch up with him after the World Cup.”

Cheika left his mark at Leinster, Stade Francais and the Waratahs before Australia came calling last October. Head coach Ewen McKenzie had resigned in the aftermath of his side’s 29-28 last-ditch loss against the All Blacks amid the Di Patston/Kurtley Beale text scandal.

Cheika was barely a week in the job when he had to bring the Wallabies to Twickenham last November. A traumatic mauling at scrum-time followed as England powered to a 26-17 victory.

Australia returned to England HQ last weekend a completely different beast. Spearheaded by scrum coach Mario Ledezma, the Wallabies pulverized England up front. It was just one of the many improvements that Cheika has overseen over the past year.

Speaking at Ireland’s team base in London yesterday, Sexton gave a special insight into Cheika’s methods: “Everyone’s probably scared shitless of him…. if I was being honest.

“He knows his rugby as well, he’s a very clever guy but he does have that presence where he’s a pretty scary guy when you get on the wrong side of him.”

Australia’s high-octane performance served as a reminder to Ireland of the standards that will be needed to progress further in the tournament.

After routine wins over Canada and Romania, the Azzurri provided a notable step up in intensity. France will offer a whole new challenge again this weekend in Cardiff.

“They do what they have to do and then they turn it on for the big games. So we’re under no illusions what’s going to happen at the weekend.

“They’re going to come at us pretty hard and I think they’ll be inspired by the atmosphere that’s going to be in the Millennium Stadium.”

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