Perseverance the approach for Cheika and the Wallabies

The Rugby Championship
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Two-nil down to the All Blacks and the Bledisloe Cup tucked away in New Zealand for another year.

Michael Cheika and the Wallabies have been here before.

It's in fact the third year in a row they have come back from New Zealand with the series sewn up after just two Rugby Championship matches.

The argument may be mounting for a change to the schedule for a team that often hits its stride later in the competition, when the traditional All Blacks openers are well in the rear view mirror.

That is a discussion for another day but the reality of today is the Wallabies find themselves with the need to dig themselves out of an All Black hole once again.

Cheika said he wanted this disappointment to be a 'watershed' moment for his side but there were no seismic shifts required.

“A few little tweaks but perseverance definitely (is what we need), It's not always instant gratification,” he said.

“In the modern world, I know that's what everybody wants.

“Sometimes you've got to use these ones the harder times as watershed moments to make some changes in a certain direction because they were hard games to lose but we've been here before and we've bounced back and will again.”

The pressure on the Wallabies to bounce back is as intense as it has ever been and Cheika has borne much of that pressure on his own shoulders.

In a week that began with a veteran rugby columnist calling for his head, Cheika fielded more external questions about his future than he ever has in his four-year tenure.

On Sunday when the team touched down in Sydney, Cheika said his focus remained on his team as they turn their attention to the Springboks.

“I'm my own harshest critic,” he said.

“None of the questions that I get asked about that  stuff are ever going to affect me or hurt me in that way.

“We've done a lot of work in building the team, building the depth of the team.

“We're going to continue to build that going forward, like we have in all the Rugby Championships where we've come out I think in ‘16 and ‘17 we lost both games first up and we've come back to finish well in those championships and that's what we want to be targeting.”

New Zealand ran away with the game in the second half and flyhalf Beauden Barrett inflicted most of the damage with his counter attack, on his way to four tries.

Cheika said his team needed to be quicker to adapt in key moments.

“You don't want to just take for granted the things that you did do well, you want to build on those and then improve the things and the key moments in the game,” he said.

“It wasn't like we just closed off for a half of footy - it was the key moments that we didn't react to and (we need to) improve in that area and that will give us a better outcome.”

Cheika said Israel Folau and Taniela Tupou would ‘in principle’ be available for their next Test, on September 8 against South Africa in Brisbane.

Both still have work to do to prove their fitness but Cheika was optimistic they would be right in a fortnight’s time.

The Wallabies host the Springboks in Brisbane on Saturday September 8, kicking off at 8pm AEST, LIVE on FOX SPORTS, Channel Ten and RADIO. Buy tickets here.