Michael Cheika (Gallo)
Sydney - Rugby World Cup finalists the Wallabies must improve rather than hope the All Blacks drop their lofty standards if they are to overhaul the triple champions, coach Michael Cheika said on Wednesday.
The Australians arrived home during the morning after losing 34-17 to the All Blacks in last weekend's final at Twickenham.
While the Wallabies have regained respect and more followers in their own country after their World Cup exploits, Cheika warned his team had to do better if they are to reach the summit of world rugby.
The All Blacks became the first team to win three Rugby World Cups, but face a breakup with string of international retirements headed by World Player of the Year Dan Carter along with Test centurions Keven Mealamu, Tony Woodcock and Ma'a Nonu as well as centre Conrad Smith.
Skipper Richie McCaw, rated by coach Steve Hansen as the greatest All Black, is also undecided about his playing future.
"Our goal is to improve, not to be waiting for other teams to go worse because of this or that reason," Cheika told reporters at Sydney airport.
"I don't think they (New Zealand) will (get worse), they've got so much depth over there.
"I think they will only improve as well."
Cheika said beating England in next year's three-Test home series would be his next objective rather than looking to end the 13-year Bledisloe Cup drought against New Zealand.
He was non-committal about whether he would complete a full four-year term after having been named world rugby's Coach of the Year after just 12 months in the job.
"I'm in to 2017 and for me it's irrelevant whether I'm on to 2019 or 2017, or 2016, I want to do the best so the team is in the right position to keep getting better in the future," Cheika said.
Australian Rugby Union boss Bill Pulver said Cheika had done a remarkable job but there was no urgency to extend his contract given he was already locked in for the next two years.
Fullback Israel Folau ranks the World Cup as the highlight of his career, even though he was not happy with his own form in the tournament.
"Being part of a World Cup on an international level, it doesn't get any higher than that, so for me it's got to be at the top of my list," Folau told reporters.
Folau was relatively subdued in the latter stages of the finals after injuring an ankle in a pool game.
"I wasn't happy with how things went, obviously I think the injury set me back," said Folau, who will shortly start a stint in Japan.
"But in saying that, that's part and parcel of what comes with the game.
"But I guess I can learn from the experience now and the next time I go through something like this I can go through it in a more positive way."