4 Nov 2022
Cheika pride in Lebanon as coach hints he'd like another crack in 2025
Cedars exit tournament in quarter-finals following 48-4 defeat by Australia
By Jack Lacey-Hatton at the John Smith's Stadium
Coach Michael Cheika admitted Lebanon were blown away in the first half by the quality of defending champions Australia in their 48-4 quarter-final.
Josh Addo-Carr scored five tries as the Kangaroos put the Cedars on the backfoot immediately, racking up an 18-0 lead inside 23 minutes.
But despite exiting the tournament, Cheika was delighted that his team refused to throw the towel after the interval despite the gap on the scoreboard, culminating in former Kangaroo Josh Mansour’s 51st minute try to the delight of the Huddersfield crowd.
“We got blown away by higher quality at the ruck,” said Cheika. “They blew us apart at the ruck in the first half and after that they could do whatever they wanted.
“It was below our expectations. They targeted our right side. But we got ourselves together at half-time, the contact was a lot better in the second half and we were able to cause the ruck to slow down a little bit.
“Our attack was hurt by fatigue and that came back to cost us. We could have got another try or two in that second half if we had been more clinical.
“But I’d like to sing the praises of our team despite the scoreline. They (Lebanon) could have easily fallen away, but we came back hard in the second half and got back into the contest if not the scoreline.
“We’re never giving up regardless of what the odds are against us – even against super high-quality opposition.”
Cheika will now have to switch attentions to his other role, coaching Argentina’s union side against England in London on Sunday.
But looking further ahead, the 55-year-old Aussie didn’t rule out leading the Cedars again in 2025.
Lebanon’s run to the last eight ensures that they will compete at the next Rugby League World Cup in France and although he currently holds multiple jobs across both forms of the game, Cheika admitted he would happily lead the team again if given the opportunity.
“If I have the honour of being involved in 2025,” he added. “I would like to think that could be another highlight of my career.
“This has been one of the best things I have done in footy – ever. We’ve lived a shared experience and it has been unreal. I’m really proud of this team.
“I don’t know what’s going to happen over the next few years. But if given the chance to do this again I would certainly consider it.
“We’re already looking at the calendar over 2023 and 2024 to plan some time where we can all get over to Lebanon together.”
The Rugby League World Cup promises to be the biggest, best and most inclusive event in the sport’s 127-year history with men’s, women’s and wheelchair teams competing in 61 games across 21 venues throughout England. Tickets are available via rlwc2021.com/tickets