Cheika not affected by favouritism

by Staff Writer

Scotland believes it could pull off an upset against Australia in their quarter final on Sunday and Wallabies coach Michael Cheika agrees.

Australia are the outright favourites to progress to the semi-finals with a win over the Scots but Cheika has guarded against any complacency in the squad.

“I’ve seen a lot of the Scottish players say they can win and they can,” he said.

“They can. That’s the reality of sport. There's two teams on the field, one’s going to win.

“What we need to do is make sure our mindset is really clear on what we’re prepared to do to get that victory.”

Cheika said little had changed in the camp from the start of their campaign, where many rated them as outsiders.

“We don’t think we are (favourites). No one was saying that about us however many months ago it was,” he said.

“Things aren’t that different, it’s a day to day proposition.”

Australia has lost two of its past three matches against Scotland, though beat them at Murrayfield in 2013, but Cheika dispelled the notion that history would be relevant on Sunday.

“What happens on the day between the two teams over 80 minutes, the intent, the effort, the work rate, the preparedness to go through the pain.

“All those other memories are things you flick over when you’re looking back or you’re watching the TV show showing the history of something.”

Number eight David Pocock will undergo a fitness test before Friday’s training to determine whether he will line up in the knockout game.

Cheika was confident that fullback Israel Folau would be right for the quarter-final, having progressed well in his recovery from an ankle injury and is likely to train on Friday.

The most surprising recovery of all has been that of winger Rob Horne, who was thought to be on the verge of heading home just a fortnight ago.

Horne returned to training on Wednesday, competing in full contact and Cheika said it was a testament to his desire that he was back there.

“It's probably not the way the medicos would have prescribed his return to training but he’s very, very hungry to be involved again and he got through those contact drills,” he said.

"I think the other lads were pretty surprised to see him out there and running around but I really appreciate and respect that type of commitment from players and he’s showing that in spades.”

He is unlikely to be available for the Scotland game, with Drew Mitchell set to retain his starting spot on the wing on Sunday.

Scotland is still awaiting the appeals process for forwards Jonny Gray and Ross Ford, who were handed three-week suspensions for a tip tackle against Samoa.

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