Wallabies finding balance in Paris

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies are enjoying soaking up the sights in Paris, but coach Michael Cheika is adamant this week will not be a holiday for his team.

With close to a third of the players on their first Spring Tour and some on their first trip to Europe, the group is making the most of their time overseas, though they haven’t quite mastered the language barrier in Paris.

“Allan [Alaalatoa] seems to think he’s got a bit of French,” prop Scott Sio joked.

“He was walking around saying Bonjour, merci, I think he was throwing in a Thierry Dusautoir.” - Scott Sio

Sio will be leaning on his brother, Patrick and his French experiences, with the younger Sio currently plying his trade at Stade Francais.

“He’s really gotten used to the French lifestyle. He’s always rambling on in French when he comes back home,” he said.

“It will be great to catch up with him and see where some of his local spots are and some of the local French delicacies. I’m sure he’ll get me to try frog legs and snails and everything but I’ll see how I go.”

Michael Cheika is not happy. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika is probably the person most proficient in French among the group, having played in France and coached Stade Francais for three seasons, but he won’t be spending too much time soaking up the Parisian lifestyle.

“I always love coming here, sometimes that’s the danger, it’s too nice,” he said.

“You start hanging around and cruising around instead of focusing on what we’re here for.

“As much as I’d love to be just hanging out and being a tourist, because it’s such a beautiful city, the business here is about playing rugby. - Michael Cheika

“My 100 per cent focus is there right now, I especially want to get a really good preparation for every player.

“There’s a larger squad than normal here, so staff is going to have to work doubly hard to ensure everyone’s got the best possible preparation they can have for the match.”

The Wallabies are turning their focus to the All Blacks. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika said the lessons from the 2014 Spring Tour would prove more telling than those from last year's World Cup as they vie to finish 2016 on a high..

“This is your classic northern hemisphere tour - even bigger than probably anyone's done before, to have the four home nations plus France," he said.

"If we start thinking about the bigger picture issues we'll lose sight of what we've got to do tomorrow.

“I can assure you from having coached over here and now having coached teams coming here, that if you take your eye off the ball for a day and you rock up to Stade de France in front of 80000 French people, you'll go home accordingly.

“We want to be ready to play some better football than we played against Scotland.”

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