Cheika defends Wallabies' selection policy

by Sam Phillips

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has defended his selection policy in the face of calls for an independent voice to be drafted into the national fold.

Cheika's selections have come under fire during the Wallabies' subpar season to date and there have been calls for an independent selector - such as George Gregan or John Eales - to join the group at the team selection table.

New Zealand employ a model of that ilk with All Black legend Grant Fox but Cheika said the notion had not been raised with him.

He went one step further and defended the way he picks his teams.

"No one has spoken to me about that," Cheika said on Fox Sports' Kick and Chase.

"But what I would say is that I'm not just picking numbers out of a hat.

"I take advice from coaches who have been in the job in the past.

"Last World Cup cycle I had a crew of five or six ex-coaches or players who were involved and helping me with looking at players during the season so that I could get an external view.

"I'm not just blindly taking an internal view.

"I think more often than not I'm making the right calls."

Cheika is set to present to the Rugby Australia board next week but the prospect of changes to his coaching staff appears slim given the Wallabies fly to Japan the next day.

The coach said change had been raised inside the Wallabies environment, and those fixes had to be given time to work.

"Right now we have discussed what we need to change internally," Cheika said.

"Before you go chopping guys or changing things around you need to understand what we need to change internally to make a difference.

"Maybe what we have been doing before hasn't achieved the same outcomes.

"We need to look at how you can change - me, other coaches, players, other members of staff as well - can change.

"Give them an opportunity for change to sink in and make a difference."

One selection change made by Cheika that worked was the recall of Bernard Foley to the starting XV.

Foley "fired up" in the wake of being dropped to the bench but was one of Australia's best players in the second half resurgence in Salta.

Cheika said the NSW no. 10 is very close to putting pen to paper on a fresh deal with the Wallabies and Waratahs.

"I believe it's getting close to getting finalised," Cheika said of Foley's contract extension.

"He's a guy who has been excellent for Australia for however many years now.

"He didn't sulk.

"He realised he needed to get involved more and have a voice as the main playmaker."

"In the second half in Salta he certainly stepped up, he orchestrated the attack well and combined with Beale."

Finding some consistency in Foley will be key to the Wallabies' success in the upcoming Spring Tour.

The whole team finding some of that consistency will also go a long way to a string of wins as the team which ran out of the sheds in the second half in Salta was near on 70 points better than the one that started the first term.

"Everyone gets a little bit frustrated with the inconsistency and if we want to put it in a narrow stream we have got to get consistent," Cheika said.

"It's about making the team consistent at their level.

"And then when the time comes to go beyond that - which you need to do in some games - go above that level.

"We need to be ready and be capable of doing that."