Jake White. Picture: GALLO IMAGES
Jake White. Picture: GALLO IMAGES

Sydney — Jake White has offered to replace under-siege Michael Cheika as Wallabies coach and was due to have a phone
hook-up with Rugby Australia on Thursday, but it was
cancelled after news of the call was leaked.

The South African, who steered the Springboks to the 2007 World Cup title, approached the governing body after Australia won just four of their 13 Tests in 2018.

Rugby Australia CEO Raelene Castle has repeatedly said Cheika continues to have her backing to take the team to the World Cup in Japan in 2019, which is when his contract ends. But mounting pressure came to a head after their 37-18 defeat by England last weekend, with calls intensifying for a change of guard. It followed a tryless loss to Wales and an uninspiring win over Italy.

The phone call was to assess what White — a former Brumbies coach — had to offer as a possible alternative, but it was hastily called off after being leaked to the media.

"White approached Rugby Australia and asked to have a conversion," a Rugby Australia spokesperson told AFP. "Rugby Australia has decided not to
proceed with the call."

White has previously expressed a desire to coach Australia after being overlooked for the job in favour of Ewen McKenzie in 2013.

The Rugby Australia board is due to meet on December 10 for a regular end-of-season review where the future of Cheika, who is still in Europe, and his coaching team is set to be discussed.

Castle said she understood there was intense interest after "a challenging year".

"We acknowledge and understand the frustrations of Wallabies fans over recent results and we are completing a thorough review ahead of an important year for the team which culminates with the
rugby World Cup in Japan," she said. "The outcome of the full review will be presented at the December meeting of the Rugby Australia board with Cheika
in attendance."

Several former Wallabies have called for change in the Test set-up after their worst year since 1995.

Among them is fullback Matt Burke, who said the team is no longer well regarded by rivals. "I reckon that respect factor’s gone. We’re down at [sixth] in the world; we started at No3 at the start of the year."