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Michael Cheika's journey to Leicester

A look back at Michael Cheika's journey to Leicester Tigers, starting as a player in the Sydney suburb of Randwick and all the way around the world over more than two decades to Mattioli Woods Welford Road.

Michael Cheika played his senior rugby with Randwick, in Sydney’s club competition, who he made almost 300 appearances for in two stints over ten years.

Following his first five years with Randwick, in 1989, Cheika joined Castres in France for two seasons before spending a season with CASG Paris, who later merged with Stade Francais.

In 1992, he made the move to Italian club Livorno for two seasons before returning to Randwick, where he spent five years before retiring from playing in 1999.

While with Randwick he also represented Australia Under-21s and New South Wales.

After finishing playing, Cheika moved into coaching with his first lead appointment at Petrarca Padova in Italy, on the recommendation of David Campese, where he spent two seasons in charge.

While with Petrarca, he led the Italian side through one of only two Champions Cup campaigns in the club’s history.

In 2001, he returned to Sydney to take charge of Randwick in the Shute Shield where he won the highly coveted Sydney competition in 2004 before being headhunted to take over Leinster in 2005.

During five years with Leinster, where he remains second for all-time games as Head Coach, Cheika won the 2007/08 Celtic League and 2008/09 Champions Cup. He left Ireland for France in 2010, to lead Stade Francais, where he reached the Challenge Cup Final in his first season before a semi-final finish in his final season in Paris.

He returned to Australia in 2013 to take up the Head Coach role with the NSW Waratahs and, in just his second season in charge, led the Sydney-based franchise to their first Super Rugby title with victory over the Crusaders in the 2014 final.

After being appointed the Wallabies coach at the end of 2014, Cheika coached the Waratahs in 2015 before taking over the Test role and – in his first full season at the helm of the national side – guided Australia to the 2015 Rugby World Cup Final.

He coached Australia in 68 Tests – the second most of any Wallabies coach since it became a full-time role in 1982 – in six years and finished his tenure with a quarter-final finish at the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

His former assistant coach with Australia, Mario Ledesma, recruited him to join the Los Pumas coaching staff in 2020 and, after Ledesma’s resignation in 2022, was then named as the first non-Argentinian Head Coach for almost 25 years.

While with Argentina, he was also Director of Rugby at NEC Green Rockets Tokatsu in Japan and – in rugby league – a member of the Sydney Roosters coaching team and Head Coach of the Lebanon Test team, which included the Middle Eastern nation’s best-ever placing as quarter finalists at the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, which was played in 2022.

Cheika left his role with Los Pumas at the conclusion of the 2023 Rugby World Cup, where Argentina finished in fourth place.