Wallabies not sacrificing flair for forwards

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opted for a super-sized bench for this Saturday’s clash against Scotland, but he says there’s still room for the silky attack they showed against Wales.


Cheika has selected a six-two balance on the bench ahead of their second Spring Tour Test with Will Skelton and Dean Mumm coming into the 23 for what is expected to be a forward-heavy grind.


Despite that finishing balance, Cheika said he was confident the Wallabies could still find a way to show their flair.


“There's still plenty of backs on the field,” he said.


“There's no reason why it can't be a flashy game.


With the Wallabies sticking to their smaller backrow combination, that puts David Pocock at six, Cheika said the tall timber on the bench gave them some more versatility.


“I just think that Scotland's got a very big, powerful pack. We've probably picked a slightly smaller pack initially so we've got the ability to change if we want to,” he said.


“Just because we're small, doesn't mean we'll be any less powerful in our intent.


“[Michael] Hooper and Pocock and [Lopeti] Timani, when I say small I mean shorter, but they can power up when they have to.”


David Pocock will miss the remainder of the June Tests. Photo: Getty ImagesThe Wallabies’ new loose forward combination  was only in action for a half of the Wales game, though the glimpse was relatively successful, and Cheika said he wanted to give that a chance to grow.


“Going into a tour like this where every match is paramount, you need to have a good balance between getting some new things happening and also trying to stay to a formula,” he said.


“We only got to play with that backrow combination for half a game, because David went off last week. I'm just keen to have a bit more of a look at that combination.


“I've been selecting different players at different times. I just think that towards the end of the year there's this opportunity now to play a few games in a row - two games here in a row where we can play with the same team again, is probably not a bad idea for this game.”


Cheika said the trio of second rowers on the bench would all provide a different addition in the back end of the game.


“Obviously there's a few different things there,” he said.


"[Rob] Simmons has been a bit of an anchor there, he can cover a few different roles within the locking position.


"Will Skelton has done a great job. When he came into us, I don't think he was in the right condition. He's worked hard, really hard. - Michael Cheika

“And Dean, obviously coming back he can cover lock, backrow. It gives us lots of options.”


The Wallabies are taking a cautious approach with back rower Sean McMahon, who is on the comeback from ankle syndesmosis, giving the 22-year-old one more week to prepare for his Test return.


All of the Wallabies’ Spring Tour Tests will be broadcast LIVE on beIn Sports and streamed LIVE on Foxtel Go (for Foxtel subscribers).