Cheika quick to hose down the hype

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

A dominant 32-8 win over Wales is not lulling the Wallabies into any false confidence about their prospects of completing a Grand Slam, coach Michael Cheika says.

Australia notched its biggest win of 2016 at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday and most comfortable victory over Wales in more than a decade.

The effect of having played 10 Tests, including seven in the past three months, showed for the Wallabies with an emphatic start against a Welsh side missing big names and lacking match practice.

While Cheika was positive about his side’s performance he wasn’t letting himself look beyond the Test against Scotland next week.

“We've said this from the very start so we're not going to change our tune now and say 'we're in good shape'. We're just going to try and take things a day at a time." - Michael Cheika

“I think it's a good start, obviously, for us,” Cheika said of the win over Wales in Cardiff.

“We've said this from the very start so we're not going to change our tune now and say 'we're in good shape'.

“We're just going to try and take things a day at a time."

Their Grand Slam credentials may not yet be proven in the coach’s eyes but some pre-game risks at the selection table certainly paid off for the Wallabies.

Going into the match the move to a smaller back row created concern over the lineout, but the tall timber in their second row Adam Coleman and Rory Arnold stood up at set piece against Wales.

The two 2016 debutants shouldered even more responsibility in the Wallabies new lineout structure this week but handled it with ease. They won 13 lineouts through the game, but Cheika said he wasn’t concerned with proving a point to anyone.

“I don't think we're looking for validation - we're looking to do a good job on the field, everyone to do their role,” he said.

“In that half of footy when (Pocock) was playing it was all about everyone doing their job properly and if Wales read one and got one off us, it's not the end of the world.

“Just keep going at it. In that first half it didn't happen, we were able to win our ball so that worked out.

“That's not why we're making selections or what we're looking for at the back of games.

“We just want to play good rugby, obviously play physical and play with some attack which is the Australian way.

“Try and be smart, be a bit creative but also work hard all the time.”

There was a slice of vindication for Cheika, though, who was pleased to prove former teammate Glen Ella wrong, after the Wallaby legend wrote that Cheika was 'skating on thin ice' with picking players out of position.

"Glenn's a player who I respect immensely, a teammate of mine from Randwick and a great Wallaby. He was a great attacking player. We want people to have opinions on the game," he said.

"I'm glad he's wrong. He was wrong:. - Michael Cheika

But at the same time, he's an international coach. He coaches England and he's entitled to have his opinion.

"It's all good for the game. I'm sure if you rang him now, he'll be happy we won."

Captain Stephen Moore praised Coleman after the match, with the 25-year-old stepping up to lineout calling in his first Test season, but like his coach was keen to move on.

“I don't think we lost that many (lineouts) and I thought Adam did a really good job of calling there,” he said.

“I don't know if you can rank games and things like that.

“I did think that the guys that hadn't played here before really did well. We talked a lot about the stadium and the noise - I thought they all handled it really well which is pleasing."

Interim Wales coach Rob Howley said the Wallabies’ opening half showed that they could contend for their first Grand Slam since 1984.

“If they play as well as they did in the first half,” Howley said.

“If you looked at the contact area in terms of ball carry, they’re their cleaning rucks very effectively, and they’ve got some great lines of attack and obviously we struggled with some of those lines today, but if they play like that [against the other Home Nations], they’ve got a good chance."

The Wallabies will take on Scotland on November 12, broadcast LIVE on beIn Sport, along with the remainder of the Spring Tour matches.