No Dunedin de ja vu for Cheika

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

When the Wallabies gave away a penalty in the dying minutes in Brisbane, hanging on to a five-point lead, fans could be forgiven for having a Dunedin robbery flash before their minds.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika had no such concerns that his side would crumble, even slightly as they had eight weeks ago.

“No, not this time,” he said.

“You’ve got to fight for everything, i think the lads fought really well.

“We didn’t play brilliantly in the first half, we just sort of stayed there and it was almost like they had all the field position in the first half and we had it in the second half.

“There was always going to be a time where they were going to get some ball and some opportunities and we wanted to repel that.

“If you want to be able to beat them, you’ve got to be able to repel those moments.”

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper spoke during the week of his team’s growth when it came to crucial moments, having felt the pain of the smallest error in Dunedin and against South Africa in Perth.

“I’m proud of guys like Lukhan (Tui) to catch that kick-off at the back end of the game,” he said.

“You look at the second Test match to that match there and that’s where both games have come down to, those last moments, so really happy...for those young guys to have a taste of what that looks like and a good week of preparation into the game.”

The Wallabies aren't satisfied with one win. Photo: WalmsleyTheir happiness though, was no sign of satisfaction, with Cheika quick to point out the fact the Bledisloe Cup would be strapped into a box going across the ditch for the 15th year in a row.

“I’m always got in the back of my mind that our duty is to bring home the trophy which we haven’t done,” he said.

“As happy as I am and I am very happy for the players because they have been working hard, the end game is to bring him the Cup and we came up short there this year.”

“As enjoyable as that win was ,the disappointment of not winning the cup still resonates with me.

“It’s obviously something we’ve got to try our best and our hardest to do next year, because you know New Zealand are only going to get better.

“We’ve got to keep improving as well.”

Hooper said the next step was making sure this game doesn’t simply become another one-off win against the All Blacks, as they go on Spring Tour and into 2018.

“Previously, we were quite disjointed - we get to a certain level and come back down,” he said.

“What we need to do is get to that level and pick that up as soon as we come in together.

“Other teams have done that successfully - we’re yet to really nail that - but from lessons learned from coaching staff and players, we’ll get a better result next year.”

Cheika will name an updated squad on Sunday, ahead of next weekend's Barbarians match in Sydney on Saturday.