Lineout improvement all in the delivery for Wallabies

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Lineout improvement is all in the delivery for the Wallabies, coach Michael Cheika says.

Set piece has been an ongoing focus for the Wallabies after some patchy lineout returns this season.

Cheika admitted the Sydney Bledisloe back in August was a low point for their set piece, with eight losses on the night.

But he maintains small tweaks in their process is all they needed to make consistent improvement.

“We had a real bad game with it in the first Bledisloe, then we sorted ourselves out,” he said.

“Some of the issues have been more around the quality of the ball.

“We’re getting to lineouts, getting the competition right, we’re up there, but not delivering the ball with quality to the backs so they can really launch and that’s a big part of our game.

“So that’s probably the area we’ve worked on most, trying to get the quality of the ball into the halfback’s hands and straight into our backs’ hands where we want it off set-piece.

“We’re not changing anything drastically but looking more inside the work we do on the jump and lift to make sure that the jumper catching the ball can give the best delivery possible to the halfback.”

Lock Adam Coleman said part of the improvement was borne in simply ensuring players demanded the best out of each other in training as much as games.

“You have to coordinate eight people for one specific movement. It's about consistency with our lifts and our jumps, jumping in the right area and our triggers for our throws,” he said.

“We are working on them and being hard on one another to make sure we are getting better.

“That is something we have done really well. Correcting one another on the run and giving that feedback to one another and knowing it's not personal.

“It's always hard giving that hard feedback, but it is a necessary step to continue our growth in the game.”

The Wallabies’ lineout inconsistencies often stirs up debate about the use of both Michael Hooper and David Pocock in the back row over the inclusion of another tall.

But Cheika is adamant the dual open side combination is not a factor affecting their set piece progress.

“It’s got nothing to do with the lineout issue, any issue you’re saying with the lineout has got nothing to do with having those two lads there together,” he said.

“Hooper is probably one of the best jumpers we’ve got in the team, he’s fast, he’s quite light, he’s usually getting lifted by two tall guys.

“So that is definitely not an issue. He’s more than capable of winning quality lineout ball with the players we have in that formation.”

While the technical improvements in the lineout will be important for the wallabies, just as critical will be ensuring that hooker Tolu Latu keeps a cool head.

Latu has been given his first start in two years for the Wales clash after giving away yellow cards for foul play in his past two matches. 

Asked whether he thought Wales would antagonise Latu in Cardiff, in the hope of drawing out another card, Cheika said it shouldn’t matter.

“I don’t know if they will or not, but the one thing that’s totally in our control is what he does,” he said.

“This is an opportunity he’s been given, so he knows, he doesn’t even need to be told, he knows he needs to be better at that.

“He’s a great footballer, we’ve seen that, and these are the battles players go through sometimes.

“We like the abrasiveness that he brings, he’s very passionate about playing, and he’s got to harness that in the right direction.

“I certainly don’t want him to go soft, I want him to be right in there in the battle. But he’s got to be in the battle by the rules, simple as that.”

The Wallabies take 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.