Michael Cheika saw something in the Wallabies’ squad when he took over in 2014.
When Michael Cheika took over the Wallabies reins last year, the World Cup was not really on his radar.
Just days earlier, he thought he would be on holidays this week, a distant observer of the tournament.
Instead, he is right in the thick of it and his Wallabies are preparing for a shot at a record third Webb Ellis Trophy.
“I didn’t think about it to be honest,” he said.
“This time last year I’d only just got the job, I didn’t even know who was in the pool with us at the World Cup because I was never thinking I was even going to be near it.
“I thought I’d be on holidays somewhere.”
To say Cheika is surprised about the progress this squad has would maybe not be accurate, with the Wallabies mentor saying he has always maintained a belief in the squad and its character.
However, even when he began his time with the 2014 Spring Tour, the World Cup decider seemed a far away event and a fanciful discussion.
“I didn’t feel I had the credential or I deserved to be thinking about that,” he said.
“I just needed to be thinking about those guys who were on the tour then and what we needed to do to make the team improve.
“I saw guys with a lot of good character in the team.
“We were struggling a bit at the time but internally you could feel that good feeling so I wanted to try and get the best out of those guys for that tour and what we could lead on to.”
While it wasn’t the primary thought, Cheika admitted he had begun to put some plans in place to create the best chance of possible success in the tournament.
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore said the work Cheika had put in to build an identity for the team and consistently bringing the side together during Super Rugby had been the biggest contributor
“This was my first time to be involved with Cheik and I think it’s been widely spoken about we did a lot of work during Super Rugby given that Cheik had a pretty short time leading into the World Cup,”he said.
“We did a lot of work in the background on getting our identity in place and what we wanted to be about and that’s contributed to whatever we’ve done.”
Moore was reluctant to make a grandiose declaration about the unity of the team compared to others he has been involved, preferring to point to the hard yards the side had put in to have the opportunity they do this week.
“I’m not really big on making those kind of statements,” he said.
“I know we’ve done a lot of work to get to where we are."