Cheika ready to rumble with Jones

The Rugby Championship
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has fired a cheeky shot at Barbarians coach Alan Jones, suggesting the pair could replicate the Mayweather-McGregor bout in a battle for Quade Cooper's services.

Jones has named Cooper as his captain for the October 28 clash but given Cooper was only dropped from the Wallabies squad for The Rugby Championship, Cheika raised the possibility that he may yet still pick the mercurial flyhalf.

"Well obviously they don't think we're picking him," Cheika said.

"So we might have to have an arm wrestle over that one - we could have a rumble.

"McGregor and Mayweather style.

"We may not fit the body types, though, myself and Alan."


On a more serious note, Cheika said he wasn't going to let his squad get comfortable, having named his first ever unchanged starting XV in consecutive weeks.

He has repeatedly spoken about building this squad with all eyes on the 2019 World Cup and he appears to have found a group of players capable of competing with the world's best.

It's cliche but Cheika said the overall goal was to build a group capable of the next man up mentality.

"The challenge is for players to understand that we have a competitive environment now," he said.

"We have created a bit of depth and it's up to them to perform well very week when they cross that white line.

"We have got a good group here - we had about 30 last week and there a few at home that will come back to join us.

"I want it so that any of those players can change with each other at any time and so that they compete strongly."The Wallabies are ready to rip in against Argentina. Photo: Getty ImagesThe squad has been relatively stable since the start of The Rugby Championship and Cheika also pointed out the absence of a quintet that will almost certainly feature in the run to 2019.

"We've got a few players to come back in, if you look at this squad here," he said.

"There's no Dane Haylett-Petty, no Sefa Naivalu, no Karmichael Hunt, no David Pocock, no James Slipper - there's still a bunch of guys as well as some young guys to come through.

"But right now that is in the background for me.

"Saturday is ultra important - it's a chance to finish second in The (Rugby) Championship.

"We have to do our bit and we obviously would prefer to be finishing first but we haven't played well enough to do that so let's get the next best thing."


On that front, Cheika expects a relatively similar Argentinian attack to the one the Wallabies faced in Canberra, with the exclusion of the set piece.

"I think they will bring a slightly different plan around the set pieces, in particular, where they'll try to get some dominance over us," he said.

"And then of course you always have to watch out for their work around the ruck.

"It's always a challenging game, Australia-Argentina.

"There are always a lot of yards run, there is a lot of football played and I don't expect anything different."

"It's a great atmosphere to play in front of when you get the opportunity to play in Argentina.

"We love playing in that cauldron, we've had experience doing it and that will put us in good stead."

The Wallabies take on the Pumas in Mendoza on Sunday morning, kicking off at 9:40am AEDT, broadcast LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Network Ten and WIN.

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