Change on the cards for Wallabies against France

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has foreshadowed a handful of changes for this weekend’s Test against France, as they look to manage the load of a long season.

Cheika said he had seen from his first tour as Wallabies coach, the Spring Tour of 2014, a need to give players an opportunity to play. 

“I don't know if I'd call it rotation, but one thing I learned from 2014 (Spring Tour) is you come away for five or six weeks and you've got to give everyone a chance to get into the team to play some footy,” he said.

Michael Cheika took over the Wallabies reins in 2014. Photo: Getty Images“I don't think we played as well against Scotland as we did against Wales and I think that some other players should have opportunity to get in there and have a go at it.

“I'm not sure exactly how that's going to pan out, whether it's one or three or four.”

While there might be some reshuffling in the side, Cheika said the French Test meant as much to the team as the Grand Slam games.

“I'm not going to just blank the chat of a grand slam and everything like that,” he said.

“I know that's very important but everytime we play Test footy it's probably the be all and end all for us at this level." - Michael Cheika

“I know that probably looks sideways, but it's not club footy, it's different. you've got to make sure that whatever decisions we make, they're all made with the intent of winning a Test match.

“We came in '14, we won in Wales the first game and then didn't prepare as well the next week against France. I was very new to it all as well at that stage. We got beaten that night. That started off losing the other two Tests as well.

Guy Noves is turning France around. Photo: AFP“Our focus is not going to change from the day we got here which is just to get ready for today, get ourselves performing better than we did the last day and be realistic in the fact that if we're going to reset ourselves to zero again this week, to have a crack at winning this game and playing our best footy, then we've got to do it."

Cheika, who has played and coached in France throughout his rugby career, said he wouldn’t be fooled into any false confidence against a French team that has an erratic history, but looks to be evening out under new mentor Guy Noves.

“I suppose I have a different appreciation for the French team because I’ve played over here and I’ve coached over here,” he said.

“I know the quality on any given day that they can produce.

“Their World Cup didn’t finish the way they wanted to, but what I do know is that the coach has a long history of success, long history of success with Toulouse and he’s now had a year and a bit with the French team and he’ll bring that same success with the French team.

Francois Trinh-Duc broke his arm against Samoa. Photo: Getty Images“It’s just a matter of him getting the things in place that he needs to get in place, which seems to be happening because they looked pretty sharp against Samoa.”

France’s starting flyhalf Francois Trinh-Duc broke his arm in their win over Samoa, with Camille Lopez coming into an updated squad announced on Monday, and a number of others are under an injury cloud.

Australia vs France will be shown LIVE on SBS and beIn Sport on Sunday November 19, kicking off at 7am AEDT.