No angst between Wallabies, Brumbies: Cheika

Super Rugby
by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he has no angst towards the Brumbies after they named David Pocock, Scott Sio and Allan Alaalatoa to face the Sunwolves against Rugby Australia's wishes.

Cheika sympathised with the club and said he only asked for the trio to be rested for their benefit, as they now face a six day turnaround from Sunday's match into the first Test against Ireland.

"I understand where the Brumbies are coming from, totally," Cheika said on Macquarie Sports Radio.

"I've tried to make a common sense decision and hopefully we can work it out between us and get it to the benefit of the guys.

"We worked really well with the Brumbies all year and I feel for them but I just feel it's the right decision for them all round."

Cheika said the connection between the Wallabies and the four Australian Super Rugby clubs had strengthened in the past two years, leaving him with no angst towards ACT.Michael Cheika says there are no hard feeling between the Wallabies and Brumbies. Photo: Getty Images"It's not been a strength of Australian rugby, at all," he said.

"Over the last couple of years I think we have built really good relationships with the coaches and the CEOs and the performance managers.

"This year we have had more input than ever around fitness in preseason and load and everything like that which they've been so good with.

"That's why it's hard for me to have any angst with the Brumbies because they're doing the best for themselves, which is totally understandable.

"They've been excellent in working with us to get to the levels that we want with our players."

While there may be no hard feelings between the Wallabies and ACT, the relationship between Rugby Australia and NZR has certainly been strained by the Pete Samu saga.

Cheika was "disappointed" to hear of the reported $50,000 fee requested to release the Crusaders flanker for the June series and said it had spoiled what should have been a magical moment for the 26-year-old.

"I was disappointed to find out it was a money issue," Cheika said.Pete Samu has caused quite the stir across the ditch. Photo: Getty Images"The kid is very keen to play for Australia and I feel a bit for him too because national call up, it's his first time and it's been a bit spoiled by this as well.

"I thought that the rule that has been around was about players getting to play national weeks.

"When it's an official national week that's what reg nine is - so players are released for their countries."

Samu's potential absence may leave Cheika touch light on backrowers come June 9 but he highlighted two young guns with completely separate skill sets as ones to watch in June.

"You look at the back of the field and you look at a guy like Jack Maddocks - he shone this year for the Rebels," Cheika said.

"He's played fullback and wing, he's all over the place and while he's young and young players can be a bit inconsistent his talent is exciting.

"You go to the total other end of the field and you look at a guy like Taniela Tupou - he can run as fast as some of the outside backs but he's 120kg and he's doing really well in his set piece work at tighthead.

Taniela Tupou could push for a starting berth against Ireland. Photo: QRU Media/Brendan Hertel"We've got some good young players coming through but it's time for them to start getting experience now, start focusing on being excellent every day so we can build those habits in the lead up to the World Cup next year."

If Maddocks, Tupou and the rest of the Wallabies flourish against Ireland, Cheika is daring to dream of Bledisloe Cup glory.

"You've always got to dare to dream - you can never not," he said.

"Last year we had a poor season in Super Rugby, I'd say, and we won one game and you can never say you should have won one but we couldn't have got closer.

"I'm hoping what we do now in June is going to give us the foundation to go on and compete with those guys.

"They're good, there is no doubt about it, but we want to go toe-to-toe with them both here in Sydney and there, in Auckland."

The Wallabies play a three-Test series against Ireland, kicking off in Brisbane on June 9 at Suncorp Stadium. Buy tickets for the Tests here.