Michael Cheika is an enigma to many.
The 48-year-old coach of the Australian national rugby team is known publicly as much for his unusual communication methods as he his for honest, no-nonsense approach to the game.
But did you know that he was once mentored by Australian fashion icon Collette Dinnigan, ran a multi-million-dollar fashion business and speaks Arabic, French and Italian?
For a tough-talking sports figure, the businesses of rugby and fashion could not be more diametrically opposed.
But Cheika believes the lessons he learned during his time in the fashion industry about people management and good business practice have stood him in good stead as a coach.
And that includes his unconventional team talks in the sheds -- like wielding a golf club in the locker room as he imparts words of wisdom to his players during the half-time break. Can you imagine him doing that in the boardroom of a fashion house?
Due to his business success, Michael Cheika openly confesses to being driven in his coaching by a confidence that stems from that success and by his love of the game. He doesn’t consider what he does as a job but the indulgence of a passion.
This passion is something he is trying to bring to the Wallabies team as an element that has been sorely lacking in recent performances and is much needed in a winning team culture. So much so that it is not an unusual sight to see the big man right in the mix at training doing full contact drills and tackles -- as if he'd secretly love to extend his own 14-year playing career.
Cheika, who earned his coaching stripes with Randwick and the NSW Waratahs, has often been painted publicly as a single-minded task master who is tough but fair and has been assigned the task of regaining some semblance of long lost status of Australian rugby.
The truth is he is a husband, a father of four, a successful businessman and now a leader of men who, as a unit, carry the weight of expectation of a sports obsessed nation on their shoulders.
While this weekend's significant loss to the All Blacks at Eden Park was a reality check for those buoyed by game one in the Bledisloe Cup contest the previous week, the coach is aware this road to former glory is a long one.
Michael Cheika, like any coach, is out to win. But he also believes he is reshaping this Wallabies team and its culture for the long term and if, on that journey, the spoils of war on the rugby fields of the world are earned and won through the tough physical contest of each game, then all the better.Suggest a correction