Bledisloe Cup belief starts with me: Cheika

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies need to believe they can beat the All Blacks and coach Michael Cheika says that starts with him.

Australia’s June Series finished with a 40-27 win over Italy and with  eight weeks left until the opening Bledisloe, they have plenty to do.

Cheika said he could understand if fans didn’t have the faith that the Wallabies could triumph come August, and there would be only one way around that.

“I believe it. I suppose that's where it's got to start." - Michael Chieka.

“I don't blame people, based on what's happened this year overall, whether it be in Super Rugby or our games, I don't blame people if they don't believe in us.

“We've got to show it on the field and we will.”

Improving fitness and decision-making have been two of Cheika’s recurring themes in the series and on Sunday he said it was his responsiblity to get it right.

“That's up to me to get them right,” he said.

“That's what the coach has got to do.

“He's got to get them right, he's got to get them in the right headspace, make them believe and get them in the condition to believe that.

“That's what I've been doing over these three weeks, and laying those foundations and that's what we'll continue to do in the next 6-8 before the Tests are.”

Miscalculated, and sometimes unnecessary, passes have cost his side and Cheika said making decisions under fatigue was a major focus.

“We look at guys who can make passes let's say three out of five times,” he said.

“We want them to do that five out of five times.

“Accurate under pressure and sometimes that comes down to, not just the energy level but also the concentration level.

“I think having a  certain level of fitness, gives you a certain level of confidence as well.”

Wallabies centre Karmichael Hunt said players would have no trouble rebounding mentally ahead of the mammoth challenge presented by New Zealand, who opened their Lions Test series with a big 30-15 win.

"It's really easy to get up for the No.1 team in the world, I'll say that much," he said.

"That's what you want to do as a player, test yourself against the best.

"When it comes to getting aroused for a game of footy there's no better motivation than the All Blacks. There'll be no dramas there."

Cheika said his team wouldn’t stray away from the hand-heavy rugby they’ve been playing, despite at times putting themselves in dangerous spots because of it.

“We want to keep playing like that but what we want to do - we're playing at the top level of the game, we've just got to have that little bit of inclination of when to go and when not to go,” he said.

“I know there's some commentary about the skills but I think it's the way we play and we've got to keep playing like (that).

“That's the way Australia wants to play its rugby and we've got to up-skill the players and get them to the level we want to to be able to play that game.

“If I don't back them, what is there? That's how I want the team to play footy and I think that we must have the ambition to be much more consistent at doing that.”