Wallabies coaches not affected by pressure: Raiwalui

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies forwards coach Simon Raiwalui says pressure is simply part of the job and while a 3-8 record this season will make their end of year review an extra important one, Rugby Australia boss Raelene Castle has reiterated the organisation's support for Michael Cheika.

Raiwalui had to fill some intimidating shoes when he joined the Australian camp in June, replacing Argentinian Mario Ledesma, and it has been a tough initiation for the Fijian, results-wise.

The lineout and scrum have inconsistent this season but Raiwalui said he wasn't affected by the pressure that has been coming from Australian fans.

“It's not difficult, pressure's pressure, it's part of every day,” he said.

“We put a lot of pressure on ourselves so if you put pressure on yourself it's part of the job.

“We enjoy it and we know it's there so it's not a problem.”

Raelene Castle reiterated her support for Cheika in Dublin on Thursday, saying there was a sense of frustration watching the Wallabies go so close against Wales but falling just short.

"You know the effort's there, you know the focus is there and it was a tremendous arm wrestle that could've gone either way,” she said.

“It certainly wasn't a game that we were far away from, we could've ended up with a win. So I know no one's more frustrated than the players and they'll be looking to turn that around this weekend."

Castle said there would be the usual review at the end of the year for the Wallabies but with their 2018 results and a World Cup year coming up, those discussions will be more pertinent than usual.

“At the end of the day, Michael's contracted through to the World Cup, we've said that publicly and we continue to support that stance.

“There is a review at the end of every year there's no doubt that's become even more important because of our performances but we've identified the areas, the review will identify the areas we need to focus on as we move towards that very important World Cup next year.”

This is Raiwalui’s first Spring Tour but he is well-versed in European rugby having played across the continent and coached in France.

Raiwalui said he was embracing his step up to international coaching under Cheika and the different challenges it presented to club rugby.

Asked how much of a say he had in strategic team decisions, Raiwalui said there was a balance when it came to coaches weighing into the bigger picture but his focus was on sharpening up the forwards.

“Cheik's great to work with because he's an open book,” he said.

“He puts a lot of confidence in you, demands a lot.

“He's great to work with - obviously I work more with the forwards, I'm not a kicking coach or that sort of stuff. It's there, but in the end I'm an assistant coach.

“Cheik is very open, we share everything, we have meetings to discuss what we're doing as a team and it's a very, very close knit coaching staff with everyone - with Bernie (Stephen Larkham), Nathan (Grey) and Mick who coached me at Saracens.”

Raiwalui admitted there was still some improvement needed in the pack before the World Cup rolls around but he had every faith they had the right players in the mix to make that leap.

“Obviously we've got some growth,” he said.

“We want to keep on improving towards that world Cup, keep on developing.

“I don't know the average age of our pack - it's keeping developing those guys and getting them really battle hardened for the Tests that are coming up and coming ahead.

“You've got a good balance of that youth and experience but I think it's trending on the right path.

“We've got the quality of players, we've got confidence in ourselves, we've got the confidence in what we're trying to do and where we're trying to go.

“No doubt, we have confidence in every player that we've got to achieve the goals that we want.”

Australia takes on Italy on Saturday November 17 in Padova, kicking off at 3pm local, Sunday 1am AEDT, LIVE on beIn Sports Channel 515 and SBS.