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Back in the game? Cheika expected to land Waratahs job

Michael Cheika looks set for a stint in Super Rugby with the NSW Waratahs — and he could be bringing another former Leinster star along with him.

Image: ©INPHO/Dan Sheridan

FORMER LEINSTER BOSS Michael Cheika is set for an Australian homecoming with Super Rugby side the NSW Waratahs, according to reports.

Cheika is expected to be confirmed as the franchise’s head coach at a press conference on Tuesday, topping a shortlist which is thought to also include Alan Gaffney, the former Ireland backs coach.

After a five-year stint at Leinster which included the province’s first Heineken Cup in 2009, Cheika departed to take over as director of rugby at Stade Francais at the start of the 2010/2011 season. His two-year contract was not renewed at the end of last season.

Cheika’s likely announcement signals an end to the Tahs’ search for a successor to Michael Foley. Foley quit in July after a disappointing season in which the Waratahs finished well out of the running for a place in the Super 15 finals.

Gaffney, who worked as a technical consultant with Leinster during Cheika’s Heineken Cup-winning reign, left the Ireland set-up following the 2011 Rugby World Cup to become Waratahs assistant coach.

The NSW squad currently includes a handful of Wallabies internationals including Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Tatafu Polota-Nau and Sekope Kepu.

Sunday’s Sydney Morning Herald reports that Cheika’s first piece of business could see another former Leinster legend, Rocky Elsom, return to the Tahs squad.

Elsom signed a two-year deal in 2011 but missed most of the 2012 Super Rugby season through injury, and Cheika is reported to be interested in renewing his relationship with the 29-year-old flanker.

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Niall Kelly

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