Sydney - Michael Cheika hopes Saturday's Rugby Championship Test against
South Africa marks the dawn of a new era of passionate and exciting Wallabies
rugby that will make Australian fans proud of their team.
Ranked a once-unthinkable sixth in the world, and with the World Cup just a
couple of months away, Australia desperately need a victory over the Springboks
at Lang Park to snap a three-game losing streak and kickstart their season.
Cheika, however, is looking for a certain manner of performance as much as
an end result in his first home Test since taking over as coach from Ewen
McKenzie last year.
"I just want to see them play with passion," Cheika told reporters
"We've got a good mindset about us, we know we've got a really big
battle ahead in the physical stakes and now it's just about preparing the mind
to go out there and play really, really well tomorrow night.
"What we want to do is be true to the team we want to be, the identity
we want to have. Work hard and, like I've said before and it's not just lip
service, make our supporters proud of the way we play."
Wallabies rugby has endured a torrid two years since the series defeat to
the British and Irish Lions in 2013, with first Robbie Deans and then McKenzie
departing amid a series of off-field indiscretions from younger players.
When fit, Stephen Moore has always been a rock for his coaches both at the
centre of the front row as well as when it comes to player standards and he
welcomed the work Cheika had invested in team culture.
"That's something we've spent a lot of time on in the last six to eight
months which we perhaps haven't done as much in the last few years," the
Wallabies captain, sporting a couple of deep scratches on his shaven head, said.
"You'd like to think that will help us. We'll see when we get out there
and play. That's when the rubber hits the road.
"We've got an identity this Wallaby group want to stand for, and want
to be known for. Tomorrow won't be the finished product but we'll go out there
and give it a crack."
Australia have reunited the halfback partnership of Quade Cooper and Will
Genia and recalled backs Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell after long periods of
international exile for Saturday's game.
Cheika said he was not so much using the truncated Rugby Championship for
experimentation as trying to bed down a squad of players that will carry
Australia through the World Cup campaign.
"What we do want to do is have 45 players we can drop in at any time
because we've a really clear way of playing the game," he said.
"Each person knows his role in the position that he plays and then he
brings his own talents to the game.
"We don't want to be stressing if we lose a number 13 because we've got
another guy who can step in. And that's what I'm counting on over the next few