Wallabies leave for Europe

2014-10-24 15:26
Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)

Sydney - The Wallabies left Friday for a five-match European tour, relishing the chance to escape the dramas and turmoil that have swamped Australian rugby.

Flyhalf Bernard Foley said the goal was a restorative, rare European clean sweep to expunge the memories of a turbulent season that claimed the national coach Ewen McKenzie.

The Wallabies have not won all four Tests on an end-season tour to Europe since 1996, but Wednesday's appointment of triumphant Super Rugby coach Michael Cheika has filled the touring squad with renewed optimism.

The tourists open their northern hemisphere campaign against the Barbarians on November 1 at Twickenham before taking on Wales, France, Ireland and England over four successive Saturdays.

Despite coming off three straight defeats to New Zealand, Argentina and South Africa, Foley said the Wallabies were aiming for an unbeaten tour.

"We wouldn't sell ourselves short and not want to win all four Tests," Foley told reporters before the team's departure.

"That's why you play the game. You don't go out there to lose.

"So we're looking to win all five games and start that winning culture because it does become a habit."

Foley said the Wallabies wanted to leave behind the swirling controversies that have beset Australian rugby and culminated in McKenzie sensationally quitting as coach after last Saturday's heart-breaking 29-28 loss to the All Blacks in Brisbane.

"As a team, it's great to get away from it. We can sort of internalise it a bit now," he said.

"We can get away from all the stuff that has been happening in Australia over the past month or so and it's exciting.

"We visit the best cities in the world and we're fortunate enough to play against the best teams in the world at the greatest stadiums in front of some of the most hostile crowds.

"That's an experience that you can't get anywhere else.

"So we've got five weeks to really get to know each other and have a good time.

"We can get away, gel and become real tight."

Foley kicked the last-minute penalty goal to secure his Waratahs their historic first Super Rugby title this year under coach Cheika against the Crusaders, but he said no one should expect any easy rides under the Wallabies' hard-nosed new coach.

"One thing Cheik's always made known is that you don't just rest on your laurels or credentials or past reputations," Foley said.

"He's going to push everyone forward and the whole squad and everyone's going to have to work for their positions."

Cheika said he had minimal impact on the make-up of the 33-strong touring squad chosen during the week.

"I don't think I could come in and pick the team. You have to show confidence in the people that have been doing the job here previously," Cheika said.

"So you've got to believe in that selection and go and run with it."

Read more on:    wallabies  |  rugby

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