Island seclusion gives Wallabies space to solve Bledisloe woes

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies will have all the space they need to focus on solving their Bledisloe woes when they touch down at Auckland’s Waiheke Island on Sunday.

Australia will be spending the week at the Waiheke Island resort, a 30-minute ferry ride from Auckland’s central stop, away from prying eyes or distractions.

A little bit of self-containment is something Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has begun to favour for his team ahead of Tests.

The side stayed in Homebush for the Sydney Test week with training a short walk away.

Cheika said isolation wasn’t the top of his list when picking the island destination but it will be a fringe benefit after a disappointing Sydney Test.

“I didn't really think of that,” he said.

“You're in New Zealand, so you're going to get the same feeling everywhere, I just thought it'd be somewhere different.

“I'm not thinking about it that way - never been there myself, just thought there's a footy field there, there's a gym there, something different for the lads and get into our work straight away.

“(We can) get the disappointment of yesterday out of our system, understand we've got to own what we need to own out of that game and get on with doing what we can do to get a win this week.”

Cheika said there was no time for his team to dwell on its lineout capitulation in Sydney, though he felt attitudinal issues were more of a concern.

“You can't sook about it, you've got to get on with it,” he said.

“It's a lineout - go and get it, win it, if you don't win it, go get the ball some other way.

“We were able to shut the threat down in the first half when that happened, when we lost a couple of lineouts etcetera, so no reason why we can't do it in the 60th or 65th minute as well.

“It's about being on, us staying on in the mind all the time around what we need to bring.”

The French team visited Waiheke Island during the 2011 World Cup. Photo: Getty ImagesCheika pointed to a handful of opportunities the Wallabies had to win the game late as reasons for optimism this week.

“I think if you look at the game, we still had three or four attacking opportunities after Maddocks scored to get us back within 12, with still 17-18 minutes to go.

“We need to convert (those), not throw the ball away and that puts the other team under pressure as well.”

History is all on the All Blacks’ side when it comes to Eden Park but Cheika said the challenge of snapping a 36-year drought in Auckland wasn't a daunting one.

“Not for me personally, no,” he said.

“I think our players have got to believe in each other, believe in themselves, trust the process that they build around training together and what we're going to bring and take it onto the field.

“It's true we haven't won there for a while but this is a moment in time where we've got to make the decision that it's not going to happen again.”