Revealed: Wallabies forge alliance with NSW rugby league to prepare for Bledisloe battle

The Rugby Championship
by Iain Payten

Michael Cheika and the Wallabies have used a fast-developing friendship with the 13-man code to secure a state-of-the-art training facility ahead of the Bledisloe Cup next weekend.

The Wallabies will soak up the era-changing mojo of Brad Fittler's NSW Blues when they base their training week at the new $20m NSWRL Centre of Excellence at Olympic Park.

Though still under construction - the Centre of Excellence is due to open next year - the pristine training field is ready for use and the Blues did one session there during their Origin camp in May.

The Wallabies, who are staying at Olympic Park, have been given the thumbs up by the NSWRL to do a full week’s training at the facility, prior to taking on the All Blacks at ANZ Stadium on August 18.

The cross-code gesture of goodwill comes after the NSW Blues used the Rugby Australia gym and training facilities during their successful Origin campaign.

“I have a great relationship with a lot of the league guys,” Cheika said.

“I love league. I am probably not supposed to say that maybe but I love league and I have a lot of good relationships with the coaches. 

“The Blues were in here training during the Origin series, and we had the North Queensland Cowboys in here as well in the facility.

"There was a real buzz for our guys and our staff to meet some of those guys. Jonathan Thurston is an icon off the game, you know?

“It’s a great opportunity for us and we thank them very much for letting us be based out there during the week. I think it is going to be great,” Cheika said.

Cheika has good relationships with Roosters coach Trent Robinson, former Souths coach Michael Maguire and current coach Anthony Seibold, and the Wallabies last year trained at the Penrith Panthers’ home ground.

Wallabies manager Pat Molihan has been instrumental in connecting the codes, having previously worked for the NSWRL and as a leading league journalist.

Rugby Australia has opened the doors of its gym and indoor training field, located next to Allianz Stadium, to several league teams.

Asked if he was going to pick the brains of Fittler about beating a rival with a long history of dominance - NSW won their second series in 13 years in 2018:  Cheika laughed: “He’s done well, I never thought of it that way.”

“There is a lot of great crossover. I think the old days of rugby and league being at odds are well and truly gone. There is a lot of collaboration on different things. I am good friends with many of the coaches and it is going to be great to train out there,” he continued.

“The more and more we cross over, and I talk to lots of league guys at different times and they have got a lot of insight into the game.

“We have the big fan day at Blacktown on Sunday, like the one we did in Penrith last year. We want to try and be out there and be active in the community, so people can get a bit of a look at us.”

The Wallabies host the All Blacks in the first Bledisoe on Saturday August 18, kicking off at 8:05pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS and via RADIO, with the Wallaroos taking on the Black Ferns from 5:15pm AEST as well. Buy tickets here.