Dual playmakers to stay

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has indicated he will stick with a dual playmaker structure in the Rugby Championship.

After playing Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani in the centres in the first two Tests, before bringing Matt Toomua into inside centre for the final Test.

Toomua’s inclusion reaped immediate dividends and Cheika said the dual playmaker structure was always his preference but the late arrival of Christian Lealiifano into camp and Toomua’s injury meant they had little choice.

“I have no doubts that that is the best way to go, even from before (this week). But we weren't really set up that way,” he said.

“We had Christian right up to the last day that wasn't there.

We would always set up in that way, that's the way we play.

“When we played the first two games without that, we had to shift around guys to play second playmaker, which probably made us - particularly in the Melbourne game - a little bit narrow.

“But they're really wasn't many other choices.

“I didn’t want to throw (Melbourne Rebels’ Reece) Hodge in just yet, I thought he did very well in the camp when he was there but I didn't want to put that heat on him right now.

“I felt Samu deserved the opportunity and he did very well there.”

Samu Kerevi won't be dumped from the Test arena. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika’s praise of Kerevi’s performance in the opening two Tests, echoing some kind words from earlier in the week, hinting the Reds centre won’t be discarded from the Wallabies setup anytime soon.

Cheika said the 3-0 series loss, Australia’s first home whitewash since 1971, was not turning the Wallabies into panic mode.

“Everything has to be earned and re-earned. Start from zero every game,” he said.

“I think that we've been in the contest all the time. we've made a few small errors that cost us and the other team has been clinical and taken the points when they've been on offer,” he said.

“But I was under no illusion as to what was coming with what we were doing around our roster and the way the other team came down here, I was under no illusions of what was coming.”

Bernard Foley has found himself under pressure against England. Photo: ARU Media/Stu WalmsleyDespite the heavy wake up call, Cheika said there was no sense from his charges that there was any kind of World Cup hangover or complacency from a dream 2015 run.

“I don't think they've been shocked from a point of thinking we're going to win this series,” he said.

“I just think it's shock because it's hard to lose at home.”