Wallabies "taking the stairs" ahead of Bledisloe

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says his side won’t be taking any Bledisloe shortcuts when it comes to the use of new skills coach Mick Byrne

Byrne, has joined the Wallabies set up as national skills coach after 11 years with the All Blacks but Cheika said there was no temptation to draw trans-Tasman secrets from him.

“We're not looking to take the lift, we want to take the stairs,” he said.

Michael Cheika with the Wallabies on Friday. Photo: Getty Images“We want to work hard and earn anything we can get against our opponent and I don't think that asking him, ‘What are they doing here?’ or, ‘What about this?’ or, ‘What about that?’ is going to solve anything for us.

“I think the other team (New Zealand) too, they'll be evolving anyway.

“They don't stand still as no team really does at this level, they'll be moving forward.”

The Wallabies coach said he had watched snippets of the Kiwis this season but already seen differences ahead of the opening Bledisloe

“I think they've shown that they're looking to play the game with a lot of speed and a lot of intensity and a lot of offloading, which is probably just a slight step up,” he said.

“They've moved on on a few issues and improved their game, no doubt.”

As for how a newly evolved All Blacks side might look in the first Bledisloe, Cheika said this weekend’s Super Rugby final between the Lions and Hurricanes might be telling.

“Ardie Savea's been killing it and obviously they've got Sam Cane who's been bred as their next captain so that'll be an interesting battle,” he said.

“Also (Aaron) Cruden and (Beauden) Barrett- Barrett's been carving them up.

“It'll be interesting around how they play in that heat of the final with a bit of expectation and I’m sure they'll do well because they've been playing well all season, how that reflects on the (New Zealand) selection."

Cheika’s own picks are getting closer after he announced his 33-man squad for the Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup and one decision that is relatively clear already is where he will play Israel Folau.

Israel Folau looks set to fill his usual role for the Wallabies. Photo: Getty ImagesFolau played at fullback in the June series, but often attacks at 13 for the Wallabies, switching back to 15 in defence.

I think no matter where he plays he'll be an influence on the game but I like him back there (at fullback)...and what he can do in the wider channels and I'd suggest more than likely that's where he's going to play.

“I think also we've seen (incumbent 13) Tevita Kuridrani improve his season towards the end.”

Discussions with attack coach Stephen Larkham are still ongoing and it is believed he would have to choose either his Brumbies job or take on the national team full-time, but Cheika said he wouldn’t be pressuring him into a decision.

“I'm letting him take as much time as he wants to,” he said.

“It's not like he's somewhere else. He's still in Canberra (if he stays there).

“It's not like he's running away anywhere. It's a positive result for us either way. ”