"Crazy" rollercoaster ride will toughen Wallabies for World Cup: Cheika

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

It's just under a year out from the Rugby World Cup and Michael Cheika is in Cardiff, preparing for the first November Test.

The Wallabies have gone winless against New Zealand all year and the Welsh are desperate to break a long losing streak against Australia, knowing they must face them in the World Cup pool stages.

Sensing the disquiet, Cheika is urging fans to stick with the Wallabies and believe in their potential.

The year is 2014, but it could very easily be a description of this week in Wales.

Four years on, there’s a sense of deja vu about the Wallabies’ current situation, even though many of the faces involved have changed.

Cheika has spent a lot of 2018 urging fans to stick with his team despite lean results and on Friday (AEDT) he reiterated his belief there would be reward at the end.

In 2015, the Wallabies came close to delivering on the promise by making the World Cup final.

Can the same thing happen in 2019? Cheika, for one, still firmly believes the answer is yes.

“I still believe that a lot of the groundwork we’ve been laying over the last few years around players, getting the players into the environment, getting them the experience they need, will pay off,” he said.

“Experience comes in all shapes and forms, it’s not always going to be good.

“Sometimes you’ve got to have the tough times to get to the good times, in fact more often than not.

“We’ve had a bit of an up and down four years, if you look at it.

“We’ve had some great times in those four years and some hard times, and we’ll use all of that inside of ourselves to get ourselves ready for the (Rugby World Cup) tournament.”

Cheika said the wheels of change were beginning to spin faster within the side as well.

“I think that – and you guys have been on the journey with us this year – some of the pain we have felt this year and some of the hurt is only going to help us,” he said.

“All those scars you collect, whether it’s now, this game, next game, the one after that or the 15 games that are left up until the World Cup final, they are only going to help us.

“That’s a thing I’ve got experience with and I believe I can see people inside of the team already starting to change things because they don’t want to feel that pain again, which is a pretty normal reaction from humans.”

When it comes to rugby rollercoasters, it doesn’t get much more wild than the Wallabies’ win over Argentina in Salta and Cheika said that proved a catalyst for change among the side as well.

“I think that some pennies dropped after the Argentina game inside a few heads and let’s take that,” he said

“That was a pretty crazy experience that game, so take that experience, put it into what you already know and build on it.

“I’m a big believer that those things form you, and form how hungry you are going forward.

“Every team I’m ever involved in seems to have those roller coaster rides...that somehow, in some crazy way, they help you deal with it when it gets most frantic when you really need it because you’ve been up and down.”

While he is as defiant as ever about the payoff, Cheika said there could be some more twists and turns to come.

“We’ve still got a bit to go. It’s not going to be all upswing from here I can tell you now. We’re going to get some injuries, things are going to happen, you just don’t know," he said.

"We’ve gone on a strategy of getting these guys experience and therefore risking a bit of consistency to ensure that by the time we get there, guys have got 25, 30, 35 caps.

"Guys are older, have that bit more experience.

"All those hookers in there will have 15 or 20 (caps), share it round, get that so that (you can say), '"Okay, here is the big stage, we’re just going to relax and go from there", and we know what we’ve done and we’re ready to go."

Australia takes on Wales in Cardiff on Saturday November 10, kicking off at 5:20pm local, Sunday 4:20am AEDT, LIVE on beIN Sport channel 513 and SBS.