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England said to have sounded out Michael Cheika to replace Stuart Lancaster

The Guardian logo The Guardian 9/11/2015
Michael Cheika took just a year to transform Australia into World Cup finalists. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP © AP Michael Cheika took just a year to transform Australia into World Cup finalists. Photograph: Frank Augstein/AP

England could be looking to line up Michael Cheika to take over from Stuart Lancaster, according to reports in Australia.

The Australian newspaper said that the RFU president and former England prop Jason Leonard had sounded out the Wallabies coach to see whether he would be interested in taking over England in time for the 2019 World Cup in Japan. Cheika, who is contracted to the end of 2017, transformed Australia after his appointment a year ago, taking them to the World Cup final where they eventually lost to the All Blacks.

On the way they defeated England, who became the first hosts not to make the knockout stages of the tournament.

Cheika, who won the 2009 Heineken Cup as coach of Leinster, is due in London later this month to coach the Barbarians against Argentina at Twickenham on 22 November.

Asked about his future recently, he said: “I’m in to 2017 and for me it’s irrelevant whether I’m on to 2019 or 2017 or 2016, I want to do the best so the team is in the right position to keep getting better in the future.”

Lancaster is still officially the head coach of England while the RFU conducts its review of England’s World Cup campaign which is due by 17 November. He is contracted until 2020 but may be inclined to fall on his sword following England’s World Cup failure.

Cheika becomes the second high-profile name to be linked with England after the RFU denied approaching Nick Mallet, the former Springboks and Italy coach.

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