Michael Cheika finishes 2016 with a Wallabies’ winning percentage almost as bad as the one that got Eddie Jones sacked 11 years ago but he insists the pain can be salved by future gain.
Jones’ England team completed a 14th straight win when they overran the Wallabies in the second half to record a 37-21 – four tries to two – victory at Twickenham on Saturday.
It left Cheika with a grim six wins, nine losses return from the year – a 40 per cent win rate.
It’s the Wallabies’ worst since Jones’ 2005 team chalked up an ignominious 38.5 per cent win rate which cost him his job.
But Cheika has no axe hanging over him and he pointed to the depth he has built in the squad through the introduction of a slew of debutants as a big positive early on the road toward the 2019 World Cup.
“This year has been about teaching ourselves a few things,” Cheika said.
“We’ve played the top two teams (New Zealand and England) seven times this year with a whole bunch of new debutants and new players and that’s going to be good even if the outcomes haven’t been good.
“I know we’ll be criticised for losing but you have to wear that sometimes.
“When you don’t take those decisions, it’s like I have to keep my job at all costs. But I don’t think like that. I feel I have a responsibility to develop talent and give them opportunities.”
This season has seen the blooding of some likely newcomers including Adam Coleman, Rory Arnold, Sefa Naivalu, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Samu Kerevi, Lopeti Timani, Tom Robertson, Nick Frisby, Kyle Godwin, Allan Aalaatoa and Tolu Latu.
“We’ve made decisions around this season as opposed to starting next season when the calendar isn’t perhaps as packed,” said Cheika.
“I still believe it’s the right decision and you have to take the pain when it comes. But I still think we’ve gained a lot on what we’ve done this year around the new players.”