Don't mention the World Cup

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The 2016 Wallabies are ruling a line through 2015, not wanting to ride on the wave of momentum that came in the 2015 Rugby World Cup.

Australia hasn’t played an international since the World Cup final and Michael Cheika and his charges are adamant they don’t want that tournament to define them.

“I think you can comfortably say that your performances, good performances, have to be earned and then re-earned again,” Cheika said.

“The 2016 team is a very different team and it would be foolish to be thinking that anything that's happened in the past is going to help this team perform, bar the connections we've made together as people since we got together in this sort of group in late 2014, and even before that for some of those guys."

Flyhalf Bernard Foley said there was no feeling that they needed to draw on that tournament as the new series nears.

“There is a little bit of hype around that but this is quite a different side, the 2016 team,” he said.

“We can't really draw on too much of the momentum that last year's team built. We've got to start again

“All the players are aware of that, we know we can't just rock up, put the jersey on and we start from 2015 or that World Cup - we know we've got to put those foundations in again.”

The Wallabies 10 might find it easy to put 2015 behind him, set for a new combination of inside backs.

Foley played with Will Genia at halfback in 2015, with Nick Phipps likely to step up into that role against England with Genia overseas.

Bernard Foley will have a new backline combination to deal with. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyMore intriguing is the player set to feature outside him, with an inside centre spot still net to be nailed down.

Foley played alongside Matt Giteau in the World Cup and looked set to take his provincial combination with Kurtley Beale into Tests this year until the latter suffering a season-ending knee injury.

Christian Lealiifano is still yet to make it to camp, waiting on the birth of his child and while the longer his absence the longer the odds seem of him lining up in Brisbane, Cheika said there would be no ultimatums coming from the coaching staff.

“The last thing we want to do with him at a great time in his life is say ‘ if you’re not here by tomorrow, you’re not going to make it’,” he said.

“That’s the last thing we’re going to do. It’s a great time in his life, we’re certainly not going to put that pressure on him.

“Whatever happens, there’s a plan there and it’ll happen and we’ll work it out from there.

“It’s not a problem for us.

“It’s pretty simple - you plan for him to be there and you plan for him not to be there and you prepare both ways.”

Karmichael Hunt looks to have overcome a groin niggle, running with the team at training on Monday, his second main session.

Prop Sekope Kepu also trained on Monday, his first session since returning from French club Bordeaux, while hulking winger Taqele Naiyaravoro also joined the squad.

Cheika said Monday’s session would be critical in determining Kepu’s readiness for Saturday’s season opener, with the coach wanting to gauge the veteran’s fitness.