There will be two entirely different Wallabies sides lining up for their opening World Cup matches but coach Michael Cheika says it’s all part of the plan.
Cheika’s selection strategy was always going to be intriguing given the Wallabies’ World Cup draw, which sees them playing Fiji in their opener before relative minnow Uruguay.
With a blockbuster against England looming, playing a full-strength side in their opener with a 10-day gap between Fiji and that third match could spell trouble but there’s an element of risk playing a lesser side against the island nation.
“Every individual is only focused on the one game except for the subs so they’ll have to do a bit of isolating themselves to the Fiji game alone,” he said.
“But every player who knows where they’re going to be playing in the first two matches will be thinking about only their first game and that’s it.”
Cheika has consistently reiterated his confidence in his selection plan, despite coming under fire for selections in the second Bledisloe Cup match last month.
“I think we’ve had an idea since the Rugby Championship finished of what we wanted to do and we’ve seen over training there might be a spot or two that’s in contention,” he said.
“We’re pretty clear in our ideas of how the team will shape up for the first match and the second match,” he said.
“Then from there it doesn’t necessarily mean that anything’s fixed after that. We’ll just give everyone an opportunity to get on the board.”
Australia has gone somewhat under the radar since that All Blacks game, heading to Notre Dame University for training either side of a clash with the USA Eagles but that will all change after their arrival in England on Monday night, Australian time.
Cheika said a quieter build up than in the past would hopefully help the team’s focus.
“We’ve been able to work with a minimum of fuss,” he said.
“(There have been) a few interested spectators but it’s been easy for the guys to work and not have any of the distractions that are normally accompany the build up to a World Cup.”