Michael Cheika chats to Sport24

    2014-04-04 10:08
    Cape Town - Enigmatic Waratahs coach Michael Cheika discusses the lessons learned against the Sharks, why his side shouldn’t be labelled ‘dirty’ and the threats the Stormers will pose this Saturday at Newlands…

    Sport24 asked: Pinpoint the reasons for lacking penetration on attack against the Sharks…

    Michael Cheika: I believe what hindered our attacking game last weekend was that we spent a bit too much time on the ground. While my players worked very hard to get into position, they often lost their feet. And when that occurs, it becomes exceedingly difficult to maintain sufficient numbers in the line in order to play a penetrative attacking game. It would be fair to say that our attacking ruck suffered against the Sharks and when that proves the case, it’s very challenging to build continuity in one’s play.

    Sport24 asked: Do you share the view that Stormers are over-reliant on their defensive system?

    Michael Cheika: To be honest, from the video analysis we’ve done, despite public perception, I have found the Stormers to be a lot more attack-minded this season. While they obviously remain a top-notch defensive unit, from a tactical viewpoint I’ve observed that they are trying to attack with a lot more width this season. One can see that their focus has definitely shifted and there is no doubt in my mind that they are playing more rugby.

    Sport24 asked: Jean de Villiers is in absentia for this Saturday’s clash. How big of a loss is he?

    Michael Cheika: As much as I would like to believe everything that’s written in the media, I wouldn’t be surprised if Jean comes right and leads the home team out at Newlands on Saturday just like the white knight that he is. But banter aside; he’s a tough bloke and great player, so he will be missed.

    Sport24 asked: Israel Folau missed the Sharks match. Any chance he will feature in Cape Town?

    Michael Cheika: No. Israel is definitely out of this weekend’s encounter. The doctors have put their foot down. Obviously it hurts not having a player of his quality out on the field play, but I believe the collective is the requirement. I don’t think that any Super Rugby side is made up of only one or two key individuals. Injuries are the nature of the beast in this competition and as such one has to be adaptable.

    Sport24 asked: How has your South African import Jacques Potgieter developed since being in Sydney?

    Michael Cheika: When Jacques first arrived, we explained to him what our team identity is and how we aim to play the game – a ball-in-hand, passing one. There was never any doubt in my mind that Jacques could be skilful as well as highly physical. He’s probably allowed more expression here in embracing the former, but that said, the Bulls’ mentality and attitude to the game is brilliant. The sign of a good player is one that is flexible and able to adapt from one style to another. Jacques is also dynamic and inspirational and there’s always place for a player like that in international rugby.

    Sport24 asked: Dave Dennis was yellow-carded last weekend and Rob Horne was cited and banned for one match. Is ill-discipline in the group becoming a valid point of concern?

    Michael Cheika: No. I’m not sure that any of my players have pushed the letter of the law too far. Dave received a yellow card for pushing a player and that was hardly over the top. Meanwhile, Rob made and error and was punished post-match in a fair manner. The outcome showed that while it was dangerous it was unintentional. The rest of the play against the Sharks was just good hard rugby – the way the oval game should be played.

    Sport24 asked: The Stormers come off a tour from hell. Is this the best time to face the Cape side?

    Michael Cheika: I’m not too sure about that! The Stormers will be pretty fired up in front of their home fans. We will most certainly never underestimate a South African side on home soil. While they’ve endured a tough start to the campaign in terms of results, I believe the Stormers remain a quality outfit. The Stormers are strong at holding players up on the ball, so we need to ensure that we run at space rather than into their big men and most importantly stay on our feet. For us, this week is all about bouncing back and sticking to our strengths by playing good attacking football.


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