Wallabies take underdog tag on day one

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Day one of a new Bledisloe week and the Wallabies wasted no time in putting themselves in the underdog’s corner.

Their press conference room was doused in darkness to start the day, after an accidental flick of a light switch, with the irony of the black surroundings lost on few.

Outside of that quirk, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika took one of his first opportunities of the week to suggest the All Blacks would be expecting little competition in Auckland and in their own minds, they might just be justified in that mentality.

The All Blacks' run of wins continued. Photo: Getty ImagesAsked whether New Zealand’s pursuit of an elusive 18th straight Test win, a tally that would be a record for a Tier One nation, would burden the world number one, Cheika was frank.

“I don't think it adds pressure to them, I think that they'd be thinking that they're going to do it easy,” he said.

“We haven't really tested them, have we, this year? They scored five in the first game, four in the second  game. I don't think they'd be too stressed about us.”

The Wallabies were the last team to stop the All Blacks on their march to the winning record in 2012, with a 12-12 draw in Sydney, and Cheika said he felt his side had made progress since this year’s 42-8 and 29-9 defeats in the opening Bledisloe Tests this season.

“I think got a bit more connected in what we're trying to do,” he said.

“We changed a fair bit [since then] - obviously we've got an entirely different set of playmakers.

“So, from our attack we're starting to get a bit more of our shape together and i think that's quite evident around the game.

“Obviously we'll come up against very, very hard defence in what they'll bring. They'll be bringing very fast line speed so that's a part I've been happy with.

“We really curbed the number of line breaks and tries against us in the last few matches and i guess that comes with improved fitness as well.

“I just feel like our guys are getting more experience.”

Bernard Foley has been playing out of position. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyThe second Bledisloe match, in Wellington, was the debut of the Quade Cooper-Bernard Foley partnership.

Foley’s future at 12 was set to be a bandaid, with a swathe of injuries in that position and Cheika said a call would be made by the end of the year as to whether Foley continues as a second playmaker.

“We've lost three guys that we didn't expect to be losing in those key areas. Two of them in one game.

“Rob Horne could be an option in there too.

David Pocock training at Leichardt Oval. Photo: ARU Media“It's been a bit of working on it. Until some of our younger players we've been looking at start stepping up and looking to take a position in the team.”

In a boost for the Wallabies, breakdown master David Pocock has taken another step towards a Bledisloe return, having made it through training on Monday.

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