Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has slammed the door shut on Rocky Elsom playing on at the Super Rugby club despite holding the former Wallabies captain in high regard following their time together at Irish province Leinster.
Cheika was confirmed as the new NSW coach on Tuesday to replace Michael Foley, who departed in July to take up a three-year deal with the Western Force.
With one place remaining to fill in the 30-man squad for 2013, there was a chance Cheika would call upon injury-prone backrower Elsom to remain in Sydney.
Having been named captain by Foley at the start of the season, Elsom started just two games because of hamstring and shoulder injuries.
He never reached the required number of games to activate the second-year clause of his contract with the Waratahs and was released to seek other opportunities.
Last month, Japanese club Kobe tore up Elsom’s two-year deal after he failed a medical test.
Cheika coached Leinster between 2005-10, with his highlight at the Dublin-based club a first-ever European Cup title in 2009.
Elsom produced a man-of-the-match performance in the 19-16 victory over English champions Leicester in the final in Edinburgh.
Despite Cheika holding the rugged flanker in high regard, he offered a straight “no” when asked if Elsom would complete next season’s playing roster.
“I met with Rocky the other day in Europe. I had dinner with him and his family,” said Cheika.
“I think his priority is getting himself fit and healthy so he can get back to the performance levels that he had a few years back.”
Cheika hasn’t ruled out calling on other Australians involved with him during his time at Leinster as he plots a strategy to steer the `Tahs back as a Super Rugby force.
Current Waratahs assistant Alan Gaffney was Leinster’s backs coach in 2009 and is a strong chance of being retained as part of Cheika’s support staff.
Former NSW halfback Chris Whitaker, who played 118 games for the Waratahs, was a Leinster favourite and retired after their record-breaking 2009 season.
Whitaker is currently coaching at French second division side Narbonne, where Elsom may sign his next contract.
Whitaker, Gaffney, Elsom and Cheika all played for famous Sydney club rugby nursery Randwick.
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