Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has reached out to the rugby supporter whose drunken social media critique of the Wallabies went viral.
The Wallabies coach described Jack Quigley’s appraisal, after Saturday’s Test loss to Scotland, as “pretty confronting” for players and admitted he shared the same emotions.
Cheika had a long phone conversation with Quigley on Monday after the fan’s Facebook post, which he said he wrote after 16 beers, attracted more than 40,000 likes and almost 5000 shares.
“I think that’s important, that you talk to the fans,” Cheika told reporters.
“I don’t think it’s too far away from what some of us were feeling as well.
“When we come out to pressers and say we want to make the fans proud it’s not lip service, we do.
“We’re not perfect at it sometimes.”
While he disagreed with some of the detail, particularly accusations that the players lacked passion and pointed criticism of Bernard Foley’s goakicking, Cheika said it had clearly struck a chord.
Cheika has stuck the post up in the team room at Ballymore, where Australia are training ahead of Saturday’s Test against Italy at Suncorp Stadium, for players to digest themselves.
“Me personally, I didn’t have a read, only because I believe in the group that we have here and all the work that goes on,” Wallabies fullback Israel Folau said.
“It’s obviously very frustrating from a supporter’s point of view. That’s very understandable, I guess.
“From a player’s point of view, we’re working really hard and doing the best that we can to play a good brand of rugby.
“At the moment we know it’s not up to standard but we hope the fans stick by us, especially through these times now.”
Quigley, who described himself as a “29 years old, rugby player/coach/referee in the Far North Coast rugby competition”, concluded his post by asking for a 15-minute window to personally address the team this week.
It’s believed he withdrew this request after speaking with Cheika.
It’s not the first time Cheika has gone on the front foot to deal with angry supporters.
Cheika revealed he hit the phones in the same way as Waratahs coach when he received “death threats” after a poor run in 2013.
“I just started calling the ones I felt I could and just spoke to them as honest as I can,” he said.
While Cheika said earlier this year he was confident the struggles of Australian Super Rugby teams wouldn’t affect the Wallabies, he conceded some players were dealing with a “lack of belief” as a result.
“This is a new team; they’ve all come from different environments, a lot of new players together and it’s been tough in the environments they’ve been in,” he said.