Rugby Championship

Cheika looks for passion, excitement

2015-07-17 09:44
Michael Cheika (Gallo)

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 at Ballymore.

"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 months."


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