WHEN it comes to rugby, NSW Waratahs coach Michael Cheika has always been a winner.
The fearsome No. 8 played more than 300 games for Randwick in Sydney, played in seven Shute Shield premierships with the club, captained it from 1997-99, coached the club, played for the Australian under-21s and represented NSW.
He also coached in Europe with distinction.
But he is not overly concerned about passing on a “winning aura” to his charges — not that he doesn’t like winning.
But he wants his players to remember deep inside the gut-wrenching emotion of losing.
“What we are trying to do is learn a certain way of doing things each day — how to become winners,” he said.
“A lot of that — funnily enough when you talk about having a lot of success — comes not so much from how do you feel when you win but how do you feel when you lose.
“And when you get them feeling a hatred of losing — what you’re trying to do is make the whole thing very personal.”
That meant something more than just being a professional player.
“It means being true to the people around you, to supporters, to all the people who are following the team,” he said.
“You have to take that personally and, with that comes the emotions of hating to lose and loving to win.
“That’s a process we’ll only get if we earn it, so you’ve got to just keep doing it every day.”
Cheika is not only a tough nut but is also known for his thorough preparation and strict discipline.
“I think it’s very simple to be like that,” he said.
“Because my sole objective is to make the team successful.
“So I’ve got a really clear line through my decisions — what to do, how to treat people and what decisions to make,” he said.
“I need to behave within the values of our organisation, the identity of how our team wants to be and whatever it takes to become successful.
“It’s not difficult to be a disciplinarian when you have to be, when that’s what motivates you.”
Cheika does not underrate today’s opposition but the Rebels are not his focus.
“Deep down, not many people expect them to do that well because there’s been that sort of a pattern,” he said.
“But, for us, the real issue is ourselves.
“You’ve got to prove things in life.
“If we deliver week in, week out, more people will start to believe: ‘Hey, these guys can do it’.”