Cheika open to change for Scotland

International
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It’s not an experiment, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is expecting some change in his side for their second June Test against Scotland.

The Wallabies beat Fiji 37-14 on Saturday afternoon, in a team with four debutants and a handful of experienced players usurped in their usual positions.

Loosehead prop Scott Sio is in line to make a comeback in Sydney after eight weeks out with a knee injury, with the potential to line up alongside childhood friend and Brumbies teammate Allan Alaalatoa, who was one of the Wallabies’ best on Saturday.

Scotland will present an altogether different challenge to Fiji and Cheika said they’d be making changes in due course, highlighting the backrow and wings as areas with the tightest competition.

“Definitely if we feel like we need to make some changes we would, just to get a look at some different set ups or maybe even just to give any other guys some game time because there’s some really highly strongly competitive positions from players,” he said.

“(Scotland bring) more challenge in the set piece.

Michael Cheika says there's improvement to come in the Wallabies set piece. Photo: RUGBY.com.au/Stuart Walmsley“Fiji aren’t your team that’s going to go mauling and stuff like that and that’s by nature of their quality and the identity of that team.

“I think it’ll be a good match now to work on the things again that we think are very important in June of which one is the set piece.

“We’re looking at all the things that can be insurance for our attacking game and that’s set piece, defence and work rate and today I’d say set piece was six out of 10.”

Given the youth in a squad with an average age of 26, Cheika said there was positives in rotating players for each game in June

“I think it would be hard to use all of them to be honest but we’ll definitely go through a few,” he said.

“I think it’s the right thing to do, to give everyone a chance in these games and get a look at guys, especially with a young squad too.

“It’s not always, maybe it’s ideal to see guys in different situations. So, we don’t have a forecast plan in advance but we might throw out a few changes next week, see how we go.”

Whether one of next week’s changes includes skipper Stephen Moore coming into the starting team remains to be seen, after the Reds hooker played the final half hour of the Fiji match.

Michael Hooper held the captaincy reins even when Moore came onto the field on Saturday afternoon, though he was quick to praise those around him for the leadership.

“Squeak came on and was able to bring his leadership quality to really help bolster that on the field with Will (Genia) going off,” Hooper said.

“I was really happy with some of the leaders stepping up and wanting to take that foot forward.”

The Wallabies take on Scotland next Saturday, kicking off at 3pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RUGBY.com.au RADIO. Buy tickets here. 

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