Michael Cheika (Gallo)
London - Australia coach Michael Cheika has
laughed off claims the Wallabies are refusing to utter the phrase "All
Blacks" ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.
With both countries taunting each other and
trading light-hearted insults in the lead-up to the final at Twickenham on
Halloween, New Zealand media have suggested the Australian coach has banned the
use of 'All Blacks' for superstitious reasons.
At one of the last Australian team press
conferences ahead of the final, Cheika was asked by New Zealand reporters
whether he could say the words, prompting the 48-year-old to launch into a
"Can I say All Blacks now for you?
Right, OK," he said - before grasping his throat and gurgling like he'd
seen a ghost. "Poltergeist!"
Cheika said he had already read about the
conspiracy theories on why he preferred to call Australia's opponents New
Zealand but said there was a simple explanation.
"Everybody's got a little bit too much
time on their hands because that's like making something out of nothing,"
"But it's pretty funny because if you
notice, I never call Australia the Wallabies either. I'm a bit old fashioned
"Australia is Australia, New Zealand
is New Zealand and France is France. So there's no secret squirrel."
Cheika was just as dismissive when asked
whether the Wallabies were physically intimidated by the All Blacks, who will
go into the final as slight favourites after winning the last World Cup.
In the four years since, Australia have
beaten New Zealand just once in 11 matches, although that one win came less
than three months ago, and Cheika said the Wallabies did not fear anyone.
"That's part of the game," he
said. "You fire up yourself, but it's a lot of bravado and when the when
the whistle blows you get into it.
"I've played in teams that have been
lower on the table and maybe haven't been expected to beat bigger teams or the
other teams had lots of players. But I've never felt worried about it. It's
just you go out there and you do your best and you see what happens."
With both teams only training lightly this
week to keep themselves fresh for the final, Cheika has been working more on
his team's mental preparation, ensuring his players don't get overawed by the
His mantra throughout the whole tournament
has been to take it one day at a time and treat ever match the same even though
there was no escaping the fact the teams were playing for the biggest prize in
"There's a different feeling obviously
because it's the World Cup but internally we're just doing what we're trying to
do, to be as prepared as possible every day, prepare certain things and just
keep adding the next day's things together to be ready to play our best on
Saturday," he said.
"If I start thinking 'oh this is a
massive game' and start doing things differently then I'm not looking after my
team properly. I just want to make sure they're very well prepared, the best
they can, then they'll have the chance to put everything we've done out on the