No axe swinging for Wallabies after Bledisloe loss

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika still has ‘100 per cent’ faith in defence coach Nathan Grey, despite a record first half concession against the All Blacks.

Australia conceded its largest first half score ever, against the All Blacks in Sydney, missing 30 tackles in the first half hour.

When asked if he still had faith in Grey, who has recently become full-time national defence coach after splitting the role between that and Super Rugby, he was unequivocal.

“100 per cent,” he said.

Cheika said the problem in the opening half was possibly an element of hesitation seeping in as the All Blacks pounced.

“I think it was pretty plain to see that our defence wasn't good enough at all,” he said.

“The adherence to the way we want to defend plus also the tackling in itself.

“The first part of the game is not the level you can be at at all, not in any game let alone a game against the All Blacks.

“Something goes against you early and we've been preparing a certain way and then it creeps in a little bit of doubt, a little bit of 'will I go, will I hedge?' (and that) causes some of the problems.”

Cheika said he wouldn’t be swinging the axe after the defeat, confident his players could turn their mentality around before the Dunedin clash in a week’s time.

“I don't think there's going to be a lot of changes,” he said.

“The change has to be more about leavening ourselves to go up and make the hits when we need - tracking on the inside, making sure, tracking well on the inside and making sure we're coming up in defence and backing ourselves, not worrying what the opposition might be doing out the back or out wide, playing exactly what's in fornt of us defensively.

Cheika was adamant his players would be able to discover the confidence needed to turn their fortunes around in Dunedin next week.

“They'll do it. There's no 1,2,3 step process for that type of stuff,” he said.

“It comes down to a deep belief between players.

“We've got to acknowledge what we did wrong first of all and then say, ‘Okay, we've got to fix that thing or those two things or whatever they might be’, and then go to it and do it.

“This group of players here, they've got a very strong connection.

“I've seen it over this first month that they've been together and this is a roadblock in front of us of course and it's going to knock us down but it's not going to stop us, no.”

The Wallabies fly to Christchurch on Sunday, ahead of the Saturday’s second Test, in Dunedin.