Australia have to win in Sydney to have Bledisloe Cup hope

Time for the Wallabies to back up the words of coach Michael Cheika. Photo: GETTY IMAGES.
GETTY IMAGES

Time for the Wallabies to back up the words of coach Michael Cheika. Photo: GETTY IMAGES.

It's now or never for the 2016 Wallabies.

Probably not even their mums and dads back them to beat the All Blacks in this season's other Bledisloe Cup tests, in Wellington and Auckland. So if they are to fire a shot it'll have to be at Sydney's ANZ Stadium on Saturday.

"Tell him he's dreaming," has become one of the great Australian-isms. Well, talk that there's any particular pressure on the All Blacks has been fanciful.

A knee injury means returning Wallabies halfback Will Genia has hardly plated this year. Photo: REUTERS.
Dylan Martinez

A knee injury means returning Wallabies halfback Will Genia has hardly plated this year. Photo: REUTERS.

The team under the pump to do something here is Australia and it would be insulting to pretend otherwise. Just as it would be to make out that having some old blokes back from a second-rate European competition suddenly makes them a fearsome prospect. 

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Thankfully Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika didn't bother.

"If you have a look at the Super Rugby performances, it'll tell you otherwise. They [the New Zealand sides] have cleaned up," Cheika said.

"By the points, they probably should've had five teams in the finals or something like that and they just played awesome footy. I think it's pretty clear where we sit in the picture and we're going to have to play at our absolute best just to be in the contest."

You don't want to be too disrespectful to men such as Sekope Kepu, Will Genia, Matt Giteau and Adam Ashley-Cooper. They're admirable people and fine players and all very fit, apparently.

But, if the boot was on the other foot, New Zealanders would see it as a backward step to summon ageing stars back from France.

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The Wallabies have to hope it's the right move because of what England did to those who were left on the home front.

"I'm always a believer in my team. When we're playing - whether we're getting beat or whether we're in front - whatever the challenge is I always believe in the lads," said Cheika.

"So far, in the time we've had together, the 18 months or so in our coaching time, we've built a really strong connection around hard work and we're building our belief.

"We understand we've got a long way to go around having that mental toughness that's required to go in day-in, day-out and do the job. But I trust them to go into this contest knowing that they're going to take the world's best right to the line."

Loose forwards David Pocock and Michael Hooper are absolutely first class. The former will wear No.8, but Cheika confirmed that blindside flanker Ben McCalman will occasionally fill that role to allow Pocock and Hooper to both play as flankers.

If that pair go well and Israel Folau can get into the game and Genia and Giteau are able to control things, then the Wallabies can win. But if they have any designs on reclaiming the Bledisloe Cup then they'll have to, because winning twice across the Tasman is surely beyond them.

"We'll be doing our absolute best. It means a lot to us and we've prepared in a way that means that we'll give our all and then we'll see the cards fall where they do," Cheika said.

 

 - Dominion Post

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