Ex rugby union pro Michael Cheika has given The Cedars a boost by confirming he will join them as head coach. Despite having a long and esteemed career in rugby union, Cheika has proven his versatility as he’s set to take the reins for the national Lebanese rugby league team.
It’s not the first time that Cheika will have switched codes, but up until now he’s only worked in a supporting role. This won’t be the case with Lebanon; Cheika will be the man responsible for leading them in their World Cup campaign.
The Rise of Lebanon’s Rugby
Nicknamed the Cedars after the tree on their national flag, Lebanon’s arrival on the international scene is relatively recent. They began competing internationally in 1998 and has steadily built upon early success.
Although they haven’t qualified for every World Cup, they eclipsed previous performances in 2017. After qualifying for the World Cup, they progressed out of the notorious group of death only to suffer a close loss to Tonga in the knock-out stages.
Fans will be looking to Cheika to take Lebanon one step further. Qualification for the 2021 World Cup has already been secured, courtesy of their 2017 achievements, so when the Australian officially takes over, he can focus solely on polishing up the team’s performance ahead of next year.
The arrival of Cheika could be a very new experience for some of the Lebanese players, who may not be familiar with such intense media scrutiny. However, with the ex-coach of the Wallabies heading up the Lebanese campaign, interest will inevitably be heightened.
You can follow the performance of the Cedars plus get the latest rugby odds online. Their results on the lead up to the World Cup may provide some insight into whether Cheika has what it takes to take Lebanon further than ever before.
Strong Lebanese Links
Although Michael Cheika is strongly associated with Australia, his links to Lebanon make him one of the obvious choices to take over. Both of his parents are Lebanese and Cheika has spoken about his connection to the country.
Born in Sydney, the Australian number 8 admitted he was looking forward to introducing Lebanese culture to everyone who was watching. Describing it as an “unbelievable opportunity”, Cheika said that despite being Australian, he’s always felt a kinship with Lebanon.
Michael Cheika is best known for being Australia’s national coach for rugby union for five years, his first love was rugby league. As a boy Cheika watched rugby league before switching to play rugby union.
He finally returned to rugby league in 2020 when he joined Trent Robinson as assistant coach at the Sydney Roosters.
Lebanon will begin their World Cup games in October 2021 in Group C alongside Ireland, New Zealand and Jamaica.