No complacency for Wallabies against Wales

by staff

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says having a quarter final spot secured will not affect their motivation against Wales on Saturday.

Cheika admitted his side had been “introverted” in its tournament so far and sealing a knock out spot a week early had not changed that view.

“You’re being dishonest if you go approaching things one way and then, ‘Oh, we’ve made it now so we’ll change things’,” he said.

“We’ve stayed on a course of...enjoying ourselves but keeping ourselves on edge around the difficulty of our pool and it’s a qualification phase in itself.

“I don’t feel any more relaxed or anything like that because we’ve qualified already.:

While the group with four top 10 sides among it has been dubbed the Pool of Death, Cheika has preferred a battle site analogy, with a series of battles that have become more bruising with each encounter.

“I think it’s a sign of weakness if we relax now and say, ‘we’re qualified, we can just chill out and see what happens’,” he said.

“We’re still pretty much in the middle of what is pretty much a war zone, our group, and we’re still playing for everything.”

Cheika has dismissed suggestions this week that the win would give them an easier run through the sudden-death stages but maintained the priority he places on a win.

In that vein, he has opted to continue to start two open sides against Wales, with youngster Sean McMahon a straight swap for vice-captain Michael Hooper.

Cheika said McMahon’s form for the Wallabies - he was named man of the match in both of his last two Tests - could not go unrewarded.

“He brings a lot of energy to the game and he’s a good character but he wouldn't be playing unless I knew that he believed in himself to go out there and do a really good job for his country,” he said.

“I think you’ve got to try and get a balance on what we want to create as a team ,the combinations you want to try and create but also rewarding form.

“It’s a good chance for me to give him a chance to shine on this stage.”

The Dragons opted to fight fire with fire by selecting two specialist open sides against Australia on Saturday, in Sam Warburton and Justin Tipuric, a selection that did not surprise Cheika.

“He’s (Tipuric) a class operator,” he said.

“He’s a genuine stealer of the ball and pressure at the breakdown but he’s also an excellent attacking player.

“I rate him very highly and so I thought he would play at some stage or other in their pool matches.

“We’re not trying to predict anything from the opposition.

“We’re just trying to have our stuff worked out best we possibly can and bring that.”

Wallabies fullback Israel Folau was on the sidelines of the team’s final captain’s run after an ankle concern this week but said he was confident of playing.

“It’s not 100 per cent but for me I’m confident otherwise I wouldn’t be strapping on the boots and going out there tomorrow,” he said.

“I’m sure every player throughout the tournament gets the little niggly injuries you’ve got to try and overcome as best you can.

“Going into the game tomorrow, this is the last thing on my mind."