Cool heads will boost Wallabies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Cheika flagged the return of Australia’s European contingent in the upcoming Rugby Championships, with a hint of composure to return in the form of Matt Giteau and co.

Australia made mistakes at critical junctures in all three Tests, with a far different makeup to the team that fronted up in the 2015 Rugby World Cup final.

Cheika has spoken about a need for extra accuracy all through the series and said part of that was about performing under game pressure.

Some of them might be that (new combinations) but placing the ball back so the halfback can scoop it up and get it on the move it's got nothing to do with combinations,” he said.

“Concentration in the moment (when you’re) under pressure from your opponent and looking to do every little thing correctly.

“Every little touch, every little move and you've got to own the fact that in this series those little moments have let us down.”

Cheika confirmed on Saturday night that every eligible Europe-based Wallabies player had expressed a desire to come home for the Rugby Championship, kicking off with an August 20 Bledisloe Cup in Sydney.
Cheika praised Matt Toomua. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies mentor pointed to the performance of Matt Toomua in the third Test as an example of the value of experience but was quick to dismiss the return of old heads as any sort of magic fix.
“Experience is important. You even saw with Matt Toomua, it does make a big difference, there's no doubt about it,” he said.
“I don't want it to be like 'oh, we need to have those guys'. I've always said we need to have a bigger squad of players that can earn, that can make the difference.
“I think we uncovered 3-4 new guys this year who can definitely make the difference.”
Cheika said Dane Haylett-Petty had been one of the finds of the campaign, with the Force fullback among Australia’s best, playing on the wing, in each Test.
“The thing we're very disappointed in ourselves because we've given our debutants losing dressing room, three times and two times and Adam [Coleman] tonight.
“That's not good enough, letting players come into the environment and not have the feeling of singing the anthem afterwards in the dressing room.”
Owen Farrell punished athe Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika said the Wallabies would need to look at their training program, particularly fitness and pressure drills, ahead of the next tournament.

“The training camp has been pretty good, we've been really accurate in that and tried to create as much pressure in that environment to simulate the games but in saying that now and looking at where what we did produce in those areas, maybe we'll change a little bit about the way we train,” he said.

“Another thing I think we've got to improve on, is we've got to be a lot fitter. If we want to play this much footy, we've got to be a little fitter.”

Despite the series loss to England, Cheika said he didn’t regret leaving most of the European players in their local leagues in June, with the exception of James Horwill.

“The guys I went around when I saw them all in January and asked who wanted to keep playing and they all put their hand up to want to play,” he said.

“Some have come back earlier, they've been (Sekope) Kepu and Horwill came back this time and Kepu will get a bit of a break now.

“The other guys, it was always to give them a break, you can't play footy 12 months of the year.

“In that opportunity of them having a break, we'll blood some new guys and give them opportunity.”
Reds lock Rob Simmons is set to miss up to a month, with a grade to AC injury.

Simmons went off at half-time in the third Test, replaced by Coleman and will rehab with the Queensland Reds as Super Rugby kicks off again.

His recovery is expected to take anywhere from one to four weeks.

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