Rod Macqueen has hailed the effort of Michael Cheika, who just failed to emulate his achievement of coaching a winning Rugby World Cup side after having well under a full four-year cycle to prepare the team.
Cheika came within one victory of securing Australia’s third World Cup win, as they fell 34-17 to New Zealand in the final in London.
He only had one year to prepare the team after Ewen McKenzie resigned.
Most of his first half of 2015 was taken up coaching the NSW Waratahs, who he led to a Super Rugby title in 2014.
Macqueen had a year longer than Cheika, but still only had half a World Cup cycle to prepare the Wallabies team that ultimately won the 1999 tournament, after he replaced Greg Smith in September 1997.
“I think in a very short period of time Michael has done exceptionally well,” Macqueen told AAP.
“The players have responded very well and they did the best they could and thats really all you can ask.”
The result is sure to boost Australian Rugby, which has struggled in competition against the other three major football codes in recent times.
Macqueen was upbeat about the code’s prospects after the Wallabies recorded their best World Cup result since 2003.
“I think Australian rugby is in good stead and I think the players can be proud of their performance,” he said.
He noted Australia’s lineout struggles in the final, especially after they lost key lock Kane Douglas to injury early on.
Macqueen had no hesitation in applauding the triumphant All Blacks while praising the Australians.
“I think they are a very good team and they played exceptionally well,” Macqueen said of New Zealand.
“In the big matches it’s the little things like the dominance in the lineout made a big difference.
“Across the park they were just a better side.
“I think they (Australia) played well, they were just up against a better side on the day.”