Cheika ready for double coaching challenge at Twickenham and Rugby League World Cup

LEIGH, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 30: Anthony Layoun of Lebanon during Rugby League World Cup 2021 Pool C match between Lebanon and Jamaica at Leigh Sports Village on October 30, 2022 in Leigh, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
Lebanon's Anthony Layoun during the Cedars win over Jamaica at the Rugby League World Cup which booked their quarter-final place (Getty Images for RLWC 2021)

By Milly McEvoy at Leigh Sports Village

Michael Cheika says he is prepared for next weekend's high-wire coaching act as his Lebanon side qualified for the Rugby League World Cup quarter-finals.

The Cedars will face Australia in the last eight on Friday before Cheika swaps league for union to coach Argentina against England two days later at Twickenham.

Lebanon confirmed their place in the knockout stages with a 74-12 win over Jamaica in their final Group C match as Josh Mansour scored a hat-trick.

“It’s probably going to be one day here, one day there. Everything here will have to be nailed down first because we are in a World Cup, this is extremely important,” the former Australia rugby union coach said.

“It’s obviously a huge game for Argentina as well. There’s been a lot of talk about it and whether I can do this, it’s more for me about trying to do it properly, not just doing it.

“Do it where I'm making a contribution to both teams, and an important one as the coach, and I think all the boys understand the scenario.”

With all of Lebanon’s squad being born in Australia, their match-up against the Kangaroos has extra intrigue, with Cheika hoping it serves as an audition for some of his Lebanon players to soon pull on the green and gold jersey.

He added: “The irony is guys like Adam [Doueihi], guys like Mitch [Moses], they're pressing to play for Australia, and we want them to.

“I want them to play for Australia, because that means they're playing the highest level possible. We love it when they're playing with us, obviously, but we understand our place in what's happening.

“It's a weird scenario where you're playing against a team but you're really pushing to be a part of that team one day as well.

“And we would want the same for any of our guys to make the NRL dream come true or the international dream come true or Origin, whatever that might be.

“It is all a bit weird but at the same time, it's really nice and a great challenge for everyone.”

Despite three heavy defeats at their maiden World Cup, Jamaica feel they will reap the rewards of featuring at the tournament.

Assistant coach Roy Calvert said: “We're definitely confident that we're better than what we showed out there today.

“We spoke about creating a legacy, that's what this journey is about. We created history when we got here. We created history again in the first game, by scoring our first ever points at a World Cup.

“We created history in the second game by scoring our first try and we wanted to create a bit of history by seeking that first win.

“A lot of people believe that it is a pipe dream, but that's a belief in our camp, we have overcome a lot of obstacles just to be here and we just wanted that win so much.

“It's all a part of the experience, the disappointment creates that fire in the belly for us to want to ensure that we're here again, come three years’ time.”

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