Hate mail tumbles in for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika after loss to ABs
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has revealed he had received a large amount of hate mail from disgruntled fans this week.
The image of Australian rugby has been tarnished this year by underwhelming test and Super Rugby results, as well as interminable off-field issues. When the Wallabies were beaten comfortably 54-34 by the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener on Saturday, it seems fans could contain their frustrations no longer.
A near perfect first half from the All Blacks left the Wallabies attempting to claw back some respectability in the opening game of the Rugby Championship.
Cheika went out of his way in June to phone a Wallabies fan who posted a rant on Facebook that went viral.
Since then, others have done their best to get hold of Cheika and give him a piece of their mind. While the coach agrees fans have a right to be disappointed, he says he can't get his head around the anger directed at the Wallabies.
"I have certainly had some of my own hate mail to deal with," Cheika said. "I am not sure how they get my email address but they happen to, or a phone number. But you have to roll with that stuff mate, you have to deal with it.
"There's only one way that can change. Nothing that happens from Monday to Friday. The only way these things change is on the field."
Cheika later joked the content of the hate mail would have made Wallabies fan Jack Quigley's Facebook rant look like fan mail.
Some supporters have said they cannot bear to watch another Wallabies game for the time being because they are so frustrated at watching a team that used to match it with the All Blacks be outplayed in all departments.
Ahead of Australia's next match in Dunedin, where they will be trying to keep the Bledisloe Cup series alive, Cheika has asked fans to not channel the wrong emotions.
"No one should be angry," Cheika said. "People can be disappointed. Anger is a different emotion and I have heard a lot of anger and stuff around from people who might be bitter about it or whatever.
"I am not sure why you would be angry, because it's your national team. You'd be disappointed, 100 per cent.
"As Wallabies, we have to change that on the field and that's the only place to do it."
At Cheika's press conference on Thursday, one New Zealand journalist appeared to try to get under the Wallabies coach's skin by pushing him on why the squad had based itself in Christchurch, not Dunedin, for the first half of the week.
The suggestion was the Wallabies were scared to be in Dunedin and Cheika could only laugh off the barb.
"What's the problem?" Cheika said. "We're certainly going to be part of the game, we're the other team.
"We've come to New Zealand to soak it up for a week, it's a two-leg journey from Australia to come here.
"I don't see any drama, we'll be there this afternoon [Thursday], so I'm sure that if anyone wants to give us some atmosphere, they'll come by the hotel and let us know."
The Wallabies will start as firm outsiders for Saturday's match and history is certainly not on their side.
It has been 16 years since Australia tasted success on New Zealand soil and after the effort dished up in Sydney, it is no wonder bookies have the Wallabies at their longest odds in history.
For Cheika though, a man who loves being an underdog as much as anyone, he is buoyed by the prospect of creating history against a side nobody expects the Wallabies to beat.
"I know its a tough situation and I am sure we have had a lot of stones thrown at us – and justifiably so in some areas – but I love it in that space," Cheika said. "That's where I have lived most of my life, in that space. I want the players to enjoy it, enjoy being in that place and then get out of it and then stay hungry when you do.
"I think it's a really great opportunity for us and I am not just saying that because that's the spin everyone likes to put on when you're in that [situation].
"This really is a huge opportunity for players to show who they really are.
"There's no shortage of endeavour and desire inside the team. They need to believe in themselves enough to go out there and turn that into on-field performance. And just stay at it. Eighty minutes worth of that."
- Sydney Morning Herald