Wallabies dropped 'disturbing' amount of ball at training under Michael Cheika

Outgoing Wallabies selector Michael O'Connor has lifted the lid on Australia's failed Rugby World Cup campaign, revealing how Michael Cheika's virtual autocracy and a "secret" game plan never sat well with a playing group that made countless errors at training.

O'Connor is no longer employed by Rugby Australia, his role as part of a three-man selection panel that was established to rein in Cheika no longer viable amid the governing body's tenuous financial position.

But it appears O'Connor -- and Director of Rugby Scott Johnson -- had little success in wrestling even some say over team selections at the World Cup.

"I certainly sensed that he would rather have flown solo on selections," O'Connor told the Sydney Morning Herald. "A lot of coaches are that way and they like to take responsibility. He more or less got what he wanted.

"He was very loyal to players that delivered in the past in Super 15 and the [2015] World Cup. He wanted to take responsibility for the selections, so it was a bit awkward."

While O'Connor had no say over the game plan, he did watch on at training with concern as the Wallabies fumbled their way through session after session.

"I've never ever seen as much dropped ball from a national team. That was disturbing," O'Connor said. "If you're going to drop it training, you're going to drop it in a game - and it [happened].

"Situations where you've got Sekope Kepu trying to tip on balls in midfield like he's Mark Ella, front-rowers playing like centres when they should be hitting the ball up ... you train the way you play."

The Wallabies' desire to play an attacking style of rugby had been telegraphed well before the tournament began, with England coach Eddie Jones revealing he knew exactly how Australia was going to approach their quarterfinal in Oita.

England sent the Wallabies packing from the tournament with a 40-16 victory, bringing down the curtain on Cheika's Wallabies tenure; Australia's 18 turnovers to England's eight suggesting both Jones and O'Connor's comments were right on the money.

It can't have helped that Cheika's high-risk approach had almost been shrouded in secrecy, too.

"When you look back on it: what was it?" O'Connor told Herald. "That new attacking style he was going to bring to the Wallabies; it was so secretive and he had to play players out of Super commitments and fly them to Brisbane and educate them. I don't know. It was almost like a scam.

"I always thought with me he was holding back. I always asked what the new style of play was and he told me. I thought there has got to be more than that. I always thought he had something in reserve and he was being very cagey. That's fine. But he didn't. It was always going to end in tears."

Incoming Wallabies coach Dave Rennie is due to begin his tenure next month.

Cheika, meanwhile, has been freelancing with NRL club Sydney Roosters but was this week linked to English club Gloucester.