Wallabies look to rebound

2014-11-23 10:13
Michael Cheika (AFP)

Dublin - Australia coach Michael Cheika repudiated claims his side would be demoralised and exhausted after a second successive defeat on their Northern Hemisphere tour, but would rebound for the final Test against England.

The 47-year-old coach, who replaced Ewen McKenzie when he stepped down after the Rugby Championship last month, said the players would regroup and be on top form for the English despite being edged out 26-23 by Six Nations champions Ireland on Saturday.

It followed a 29-26 loss to France the previous Saturday, but this was especially painful for the Australia-born son of Lebanese immigrants as his side had fought back from 17-0 down early on to lead 20-17.

"We'll go again against England. You're not tired when you play for Australia," said Cheika, who enjoyed a successful spell as coach of Irish province Leinster, guding them to the 2009 European Cup.

"We will recover, mourn the loss, a difficult defeat that it was, and bounce back on Monday."

Cheika, who coached the NSW Waratahs to Super Rugby success this year, said the defeat was more painful to bear than that against the French.

"I am very disappointed as this is a difficult one to take," said Cheika, who started the tour with wins over the Barbarians and Wales.

"Last week we got close but we would have been lucky to win. This week we are unlucky to lose.

"This was a much better performance from the guys.

"I am not the type of person to make excuses. Still very early days for us and sometimes away from home you can tuck up and say 'Oh well, there is just one week to go and we are going home'.

"But we didn't do that and that was a really excellent attitude from the guys."

Cheika said there was much that was pleasing to the eye but they were just lacking in some areas.

- Clinical edge -

"We are obviously trying to set up variations in play and we did a fair bit of that when we ran with the ball," said Cheika.

"We drew in a lot of their players and created overlaps out wide but we just didn't execute the final pass well enough.

"We need to be able to finish those opportunities when we get into those positions. We just lack that clinical edge."

Cheika, who singled out outstanding centre Matt Toomua, praised the Irish and said they executed their game plan very well and would be a threat at next year's World Cup.

However, he was perplexed at why all the Wallabies' opponents thought their scrum was a soft touch.

"Most teams think they can outmuscle us," said Cheika, who was also far from content with the performance of referee Glen Jackson.

"I don't know why other teams think that as we have fronted up really well. But in the end it is irrelevant what they think as I am really happy with the performance of the front five."

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper, who also captained the Waratahs to the Super Rugby title, said it had been a fun game to play in and there were some encouraging things to come out of it.

"There have been games this year where we have fallen far behind and not got back into it. However, here we did get back into the mix," said the 23-year-old, the youngest Wallabies skipper since Ken Catchpole in 1961.

"I think we can definitely turn it around against England. If you look at last week where we think we let ourselves down then this week we did the opposite and we have moved forward and next week we can make more progress."

Cheika said there had been a certain sense of nostalgia being back in Ireland but he had put that aside as the match dawned.

"It is really hard to like the people you are going to play against and then go out and have to smash them up on the Saturday," said Cheika.

"It has been very mixed emotions all week. However, I knew when people wished me luck they were lying!" he added with a grin.

Read more on:    wallabies  |  michael cheika  |  rugby

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