Cheika's extra cover to shore up attack

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach MIchael Cheika won’t be taking another forward-heavy bench into this weekend’s Test, as he hopes to make the most of his side’s attacking weapons.

Cheika has clearly learned a lesson from the opening Test, in which a concussion to Rob Horne disrupted the Wallabies backline structure forcing Samu Kerevi to play on the wing for muc hof the game.

This week, Cheika has gone for a five-three split on the bench, with Luke Morahan adding to the backs cover.

The backline was one of the more positive areas for the Wallabies in the opening Test and Cheika said all he could ask of fledgling centre duo Kerevi and Kuridrani was to improve.

“They will (improve), (after) playing together and (with a) different set up,” he said.

“I thought they were pretty good last week to be honest.

“I don’t think we lacked anything in the attacking sector.

“If they were to attack like they did last week and create the same opportunities they did last week again this week I’d be pleased.”

Cheika said he expected Kerevi to be far more comfortable, with the likely chance to play much of the game where he had prepared to.

“He (Samu) had to play in the wider section for a fair bit of the game because of the injury so he’ll get an opportunity to play more in his channel and I’m sure he’ll improve because he’s that kind of guy,” he said.

“He’s loving the challenge and he’s learning a lot and you can see he’s enjoying it.”

Michael Hooper will have a slightly different role on Saturday. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyCheika said the dynamic at the breakdown would be different in the absence of David Pocock, most notably with a different role for Michael Hooper

“Sean’s a like for like player (for Pocock), he’s in that mould physically, got that physicality as well.

“Hooper will probably play slightly different in the absence of Dave Pocock because there’s a slightly different dynamic over the those two but they’ve been working that out in training.

Queensland Reds flanker Liam Gill is one of the unlucky ones, with Cheika saying if the bench tipped the other way, he would have been in.

“If we went in the 6-2 would’ve picked gill but we needed coverage in the backline we figured we’d stay with that,” he said.

“Gill is more a game changer than a finisher in that way."