Cheika has 'Tahs cap firmly on head

    2015-04-30 07:58

    Sydney - Michael Cheika has a dual provincial and international role this season but for 80 minutes in Canberra on Friday it will be all about the Waratahs for the Wallabies coach.

    With all but six of the 30 starters in the grudge match against the Brumbies already capped by Australia, there will be players going up against their rivals for the Wallabies shirt all over the park.

    But asked whether he would be playing close attention to those match-ups with his Wallabies coach's hat on, Cheika said that sort of analysis could wait.

    "I won't on Friday night itself," he told reporters on Thursday.

    "Afterwards on the tape I will take a look at it in a different context.

    "Not because they're playing their rivals for different positions but it's good quality opposition against each other and that's when you want to see your top players perform."

    A first victory for the Waratahs in the Australian capital for four years could send the reigning champions to the top of the Australian conference at the expense of their bitter rivals.

    Breaking the win drought in Canberra excites Cheika more than topping the standings with a game in hand at what is still a young season.

    After last year's defeat, the Waratahs ended up with a bill for the repair of the glass door in their coaching box at Canberra Stadium and Cheika suggested his desire for a win remained undimmed.

    "We got tonked down there the first year and it looked like we were going to get tonked last year until we somehow got back into the game, and I guess just don't want that to happen again," he said.

    The Brumbies have been able to bring back Wallabies lock Sam Carter and prop Ben Alexander but will be without their first choice halfback pairing of Nic White and Matt Toomua.

    Cheika has brought number eight Wycliff Palu and lock Jacques Potgieter into his starting line-up after both started on the bench against the Melbourne Rebels last week.

    Former Springbok Potgieter was fined $15 978, half of which was suspended, for calling Brumbies players "faggots" in the last meeting between the sides in Sydney in March.

    Cheika said he had been pleased with how the popular South African had responded to the punishment for using homophobic slurs.

    "The message from me to him is just to be himself," he said. "He's been a standout performer for us since he arrived. Not only do the players love playing with him but the fans love watching him play."

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