Cheika unchanged a day after Dunedin

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Seventeen hours on from full-time and Michael Cheika was back across the ditch, but little had changed for the Wallabies coach from the final whistle in Dunedin.

Cheika maintained his side had the game in their grasp but let it go through some mistakes at crucial times, with disappointment the overriding emotion.

“Pretty disappointed that the last few minutes we just didn’t stick to the detail and shut that (game) out when we had the opportunity to,” he said.

Cheika was more circumspect about a potential Brodie Retallick spear tackle on Ned Hanigan, which went uncited.

All Blacks coach Steve Hansen defended his second rower earlier on Sunday, but Cheika greed to disagree back in Sydney.

“I think that's a soft decision,” he said.

“Even in a game when something happens accidentally and a player ends up on his head, it's a penalty regardless, let alone . . .

“It's clear his arm's in the middle of the two legs of the player but if they don't think Retallick made an illegal action there, then that's what they think.”

Cheika said the incident may have rattled Hanigan, who came off before full-time for the first time in his fledgling Test career, but there was nothing overly concerning about his health a day later.

“He's a bit busted up I'd say but it's the first game he hasn't finished for the season,” he said.

“You could see he was a bit affected but anyway, that's the way it goes, they're the calls you've got to run with.”

The focus for the Wallabies now moves to the Springboks, who they will face in Perth in a fortnight’s time, with Cheika saying his side needs to harness the doggedness they showed in Dunedin.

“When we play for Australia, it's about that hunger and that attitude to play our absolute best every time,” he said.

“Super Rugby fans love watching the teams play, like our club rugby guys do when they play, I saw some glimpses of the Sydney (Shute Shield)  final yesterday and the passion that was there and also for when Australia plays.

“We've got to have it all the time.

“It's a real thing you've got to keep with all this professionalism and everything, is just about getting that in there.”