Cheika not exempt from fan fury

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has not been immune from the emotions of frustrated Australian rugby fans, with the national coach personally receiving hate mail from fans.

The Wallabies coach said he understood the disappointment of fans after a 54-34 Bledisloe and the frustrations around the way the Super Rugby saga has panned out, alienating plenty of punters.

“No-one should be angry. People can be disappointed. Anger is a different emotion, and I have heard a lot of anger and stuff around from people who might be bitter about it or whatever,” he said.

“I am not sure why you would be angry, because it’s your national team. You’d be disappointed, 100 per cent.

“I have certainly had some of my own hate mail to deal with. I am not sure how they get my email address but they happen to, or a phone number.

“But you have to roll with that stuff mate, you have to deal with it.”

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says this weekend’s Bledisloe Test will reveal the character of his team, backed into one of the tightest corners in Australian rugby history.

The Wallabies are at their longest odds ever heading into a Bledisloe match, with a win going at $12 on TAB, but that, is a place Cheika said he would relish.

“I know it’s a tough situation and I am sure we have had a lot of stones thrown at us, and justifiably so in some areas,” he said.

“But I love it in that space. That’s where I have lived most of my life, in that space.

“I want the players to enjoy it, enjoy being in that place and then get out of it and then stay hungry when you do,

“I think it’s a really great opportunity for us, and I am not just saying that because that’s the spin everyone likes to put on when you’re in that.

“This really is a huge opportunity for players to show who they really are."

Ultimately, Cheika said, only the score on Saturday night would be able to change things for Australia.

“Nothing that happens from Monday to Friday (changes the emotion). The only way these things change is on the field,” he said.

That’s where we have to change them. The other stuff that is in the Union, that’s away from us.

“As Wallabies, we have to change that on the field and that’s the only place to do it.”

On that front, the key for the Wallabies is stopping the All Blacks piling on the points in the fashion they did in Saturday’s first half, and Cheika said the only way to do that was to take the first step.

“You have to be proactive, you can’t be reactive to anything,” he said.

“Whether they have the ball or we have the ball.

“If you are reacting to what’s happening from an opponent, that’s when you end up in that situation.

“When you are proactive, you are on the front foot.

“No matter what you do, even when you’re making an area, you catching it up for a scramble or something like that.

“That’s where you make it hard for them to sneak away from you."

Michael Cheika hasn't been immune from fans' criticism. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika also scoffed at the suggestion the side had snubbed Dunedin or weren't putting themselves fully in the atmosphere of the game lead-in, by staying in Christchurch for four days leading into the Test.

"I don’t know, what’s the problem?," he said.

"We’ve come to New Zealand to soak it up for a week, it’s a two-leg journey from Australia to come here.

"We’ve had a good preparation, it breaks that travel up.

"I don’t see any drama, we’ll be there this afternoon so I’m sure that if anyone wants to give us some atmosphere, they’ll come by the hotel and let us know."

The Wallabies take on the All Blacks on Saturday night in Dunedin, kicking off at 5:35pm AEST LIVE on FOX SPORTS.