O’Connor stated he felt uneasy concerning the scenario.
“Raelene was simply hell-bent on attempting to rein in Michael Cheika … and that was all the time going to be tough,” he stated. “He’s a selected form of individual, very strong-willed, in order that was not straightforward. Michael wasn’t appointed by her. It was a tough, awkward scenario.”
On the choice desk all through 2019, there was debate concerning the Wallabies’ finest aspect. But regardless of what O’Connor and Johnson thought, Cheika dominated with an iron fist and principally obtained his approach, significantly on the World Cup with a couple of apparent coach’s calls.
“I definitely sensed that he would slightly have flown solo on choices,” O’Connor stated. “Lots of coaches are that approach and so they wish to take duty. He roughly obtained what he wished.
“He was very loyal to gamers that delivered previously in Tremendous 15 and the  World Cup. He wished to take duty for the choices, so it was a bit awkward.”
Cheika stated it could create wholesome competitors however O’Connor knew it meant combos could be uncooked at rugby’s showpiece match. Nevertheless, O’Connor put the warmth on Australia’s senior gamers, saying there was a scarcity of management on talking up.
“Kurtley is true, you construct robust combos and also you’ve obtained to stay with them for my part … however the gamers have gotten to take some duty too with Michael Cheika,” O’Connor stated. “They need to have voiced these considerations to the coach.
“It was introduced up quietly [to me] by a couple of gamers that the high-risk technique [wasn’t working] however they weren’t robust sufficient to go to the coach and say ‘hey hear, we disagree’. Someone wanted to face up. We had some moderately robust personalities however we didn’t have a powerful sufficient group. They didn’t problem Michael and the fashion of footy they had been requested to play. There have been gamers within the workforce that weren’t offered on it.
“It was one of many failings from that marketing campaign; gamers who clearly weren’t offered on the fashion of play both didn’t voice their concern or had been afraid of ramifications.”
O’Connor instructed the gamers he was a selector and had no say on technique. Watching coaching behind closed doorways, he was flabbergasted.
“I’ve by no means ever seen as a lot dropped ball from a nationwide workforce. That was disturbing,” he stated. “In the event you’re going to drop it coaching, you’re going to drop it in a sport – and it [happened].
“Conditions the place you’ve obtained Sekope Kepu attempting to tip on balls in midfield like he’s Mark Ella, front-rowers enjoying like centres when they need to be hitting the ball up … you prepare the way in which you play.”
O’Connor finally requested Cheika concerning the supposed ‘secret’ sport plan he had up his sleeve.
“While you look again on it: what was it?” O’Connor stated. “That new attacking fashion he was going to convey to the Wallabies; it was so secretive and he needed to play gamers out of Tremendous commitments and fly them to Brisbane and educate them. I don’t know. It was virtually like a rip-off.
“I all the time thought with me he was holding again. I all the time requested what the brand new fashion of play was and he instructed me. I believed there has obtained to be greater than that. I all the time thought he had one thing in reserve and he was being very cagey. That’s nice. However he didn’t. It was all the time going to finish in tears.
“It’s water underneath the bridge. We’ve obtained to maneuver on from [Cheika] and he retains getting air. I’m very bullish concerning the future and given what we’ve come by.”
With new Wallabies coach Dave Rennie beginning subsequent month and a excessive turnover of gamers on the prime degree, O’Connor believes Australia could possibly be on the cusp of a golden period.
“We’ve obtained some actual younger real expertise and I’d be very optimistic about our probabilities for the subsequent World Cup,” he stated. “We’ve obtained some actually good younger gamers coming by – doubtlessly world-class gamers – and we didn’t have sufficient of them during the last decade.
“I feel we’re actually on the cusp of one other actually good period in Australia. We’re getting good coaches in Dan McKellar and Brad Thorn approaching. We’ve introduced some good coaches to Australia, the rule adjustments are good for the sport too. There’s lots of positives.”
Tom Respectable is a journalist with The Sydney Morning Herald