Standards overrule continuity for Cheika

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he's more concerned about upholding a consistent standard rather than a consistent matchday 23, after naming another new lock combination for this weekend's clash with the Pumas.

Cheika dropped Kane Douglas from the match-day 23 the latest in a number of surprise selections this Test season, with Rob Simmons returning to the starting side.

“He wouldn't be averse to be saying that I don't think he's been to the form that he can show and he's obviously shown that form very well in the past for us, which gives him a little bit of credit,” he said.

“I think at a certain time you've got to give every player the opportunity and keep a standard.

“If that standard applied for Scott Fardy, then it's got to apply also for Kane and that gives Simmons an opportunity, now it's up to him to take it.

Adam Coleman is shouldering plenty of responsibility. Photo: ARU Media/Stu Walmsley“He is well aware of that and it's an opportunity for him on the Test scene again.”

Cheika’s big tick, though, seems to have been given to rookie Adam Coleman, set to call the lineouts even with the return of Simmons, a move he said was to equip the 24-year-old with

“He's come in under plenty of pressure in the first two games, a big ask to do it against New Zealand and then against South Africa, two of the best lineout teams in World Rugby and now we want to continue with that opportunity,” he said.

“We want to have more of those, perhaps we've been a little bit restricted in the past around lineout calls, but we’ve  got three in the side.

“Fardy's also been doing that job this week as well and they've got to be able to do it. It comes with an innate knowledge of the lineout as well and that's what we want our lads to have, so anyone could...step up and call them.”

Cheika set a benchmark for Simmons after leaving him out of the Wellington Test and while he hasn’t had the impact Cheika had hoped for in the NRC, Simmons has impressed the Wallabies mentor.

“He's shown that in training, that's why I've been able to give him a chance,” he said.

"In the NRC, I think he probably wasn't as apparent as I would've liked it to be but the things I've seen in training and the specific role we've got for him this weekend, I believe he can fulfil and fulfil well

“It's not like Kane was playing terribly for example but we're trying to get ourselves to a better standard, to a higher standard and we've got to make some of those decisions along the way.”

Michael Cheika wants to uphold standards .Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe Simmons-Coleman combination is the sixth this season in seven Tests but Cheika said he wasn’t fazed by the continual changes in the team.

“I'm not looking for the right mix right now,” he said.

“We want to create more depth and that equals more depth. Everyone's always crying about us having no depth, well we're taking the measures to create depth at the best level.

“It doesn't always work out, sometimes it does work out fantastically."

The Wallabies host the Pumas at nib Stadium on Saturday night, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST. Buy tickets here.

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