No axe swinging on Wallabies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika won’t be swinging the axe for a must-win second Test against England on Saturday.

The Wallabies will be forced to make at least one change with David Pocock (eye socket) out for the remainder of the series.

He named Sean McMahon, Ben McCalman, Wycliff Palu and even Liam Gill as potential replacements for Pocock, depending on whether he opts to stick with his dual openside structure or move back to a more traditional backrow.

Outside of that, Cheika was adamant there was little that needed to change in the next six days.

“I don’t think too much (change), maybe the odd tweak here or there,’ he said.

“I’m not going to say I was happy because you feel sick when you lose especially in a Test match in front of a great crowd like that.

“There was a lot of things I thought went well too.

“I’m not one of those guys who’ll fake positivity...there are a lot of things I thought went well, we’ve just got to make them go well for longer.”

Michael Cheika won't be hitting the panic button about scrums. Photo: Getty ImagesOne thing he was happy with was the performance of a new backline structure, though it lasted less than a half with winger Rob Horne (concussion) coming off.

“I thought that was going well,” he said.

“The guys we had there in that formation - Samu (Kerevi) and Israel (Folau) and Tevita (Kuridrani) and Dane (Haylett-Petty) made tackle breaks so it’s always a positive when guys are breaking tackles.”

Cheika said one thing that he would hope to change this week is the image of the Wallabies scrum.

After winning the first scrum penalty, the Wallabies conceded a handful more as the night went on, with starting loosehead Scott Sio ultimately sent to the sin bin, an issues Cheika said was as much about perception as reality.

“Obviously we’ve got a good lot of experience in the front row, on the bench or in the starting team,” he said.

“I think we’ve got to sort out couple of things around the perception of that.

“Sio going to sin bin after giving away one penalty that’s a perception matter.

“We’ve got to try and rectify that, and make sure we’re not allowing him to go down at all.

“We’ll work on that.  We’re not thinking we need to make wholesale changes.”

The Wallabies’ other injury concern is that of Rob Simmons (back) who exited the match after 25 minutes on Saturday night.

Cheika said he was hopeful Simmons would be available for the second Test, but the second rower will be closely monitored.