Michael Cheika’s contract renegotiations with the Australian Rugby Union have stalled, with the successful Wallabies coach understood to have threatened to resign if it is not resolved by the end of next week.
High-ranking Australian rugby sources have told ESPN that Cheika is unimpressed that discussions over finalising a new deal, which is supposed to see him lead the Wallabies until the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, have in recent weeks degenerated into a frustrating “to and fro” process.
Cheika, who is contracted to the ARU until the end of 2017, called on his employers to discuss a new deal at the end of November last year, following a successful World Cup campaign.
The ARU first baulked, and were even surprised that Cheika wanted to discuss his contract. The ARU eventually agreed to negotiate.
ESPN has been told that Cheika has given the ARU until March 11 to provide him with a concrete four-year deal, otherwise he will take drastic action. One source close to Cheika said Friday: “If the ARU keep messing him around, he will resign … and there are plenty of clubs and countries who want him.”
It may appear drastic action, but Cheika is in a very powerful bargaining position. It is a long time since an Australian rugby season has begun so buoyantly, after Cheika succeeded in lifting the Wallabies far higher than anyone had expected last season, making the World Cup final, and claiming a No. 2 world ranking. Cheika is understood to have asked for a considerably more lucrative contract.
ARU officials have in recent months said they are very eager to keep Cheika as coach for as long as possible. But it is known Cheika’s abrasive, front-foot style has not endeared him to everyone in the ARU bunker at Crows Nest.
His relationship with ARU chief executive Bill Pulver has fluctuated.