Wallabies v Springboks: Darren Lehmann catch-up leaves Michael Cheika eyeing Australian brand

by admin on July 14th, 2018

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Johannesburg: A catch-up with Darren Lehmann may have ignited the patriotic fire in Michael Cheika, with the Wallabies coach saying he wants his side to bring a more Australian brand of football to the table when they tackle South Africa on Saturday night in Pretoria.
Nanjing Night Net

A fast track will greet the Wallabies at Loftus Versfeld, a field they have never beaten the Springboks at and a venue known for its vociferous crowds.

From Wellington to Brisbane to Perth, the Wallabies have improved their attacking potency, racking up more points as the weeks go on.

They will do well to improve on their 36-point outing against the Pumas in Perth but Cheika believes an even more proficient showing with ball in hand will be required to keep a two-game Rugby Championship winning streak alive.

“We want to go to Pretoria and play a real Australian style of game and we’ll see where it lands us,” Cheika said. “I know we haven’t won there … we’ve started to show some signs of that [style] over the last couple of weeks. We still haven’t put as many phases as we want to put together in attack but that’s the next step up. We’re starting to get a bit of our attacking flair going and our defensive work-rate, that’s the thing we pride ourselves on as the way Australians play.”

The reason for Cheika’s Australian focus might be a result of a dinner he and his Wallabies staff members shared with Lehmann and a number of their Australian cricket counterparts.

It is the first time Australia’s national cricket and rugby teams have been in South Africa at the same time.

Cheika said it was a valuable exercise catching up with Lehmann and swapping coaching philosophies.

“It was great fun. We were in heaven talking about bowling and selections, and they were talking about rugby,” Cheika said. “I think some of the thinking is very similar around the challenges in and around keeping the balance between old school and cutting edge. You can’t go wrong when you mix ideas like that. It was very worthwhile.”

The Wallabies know history is against them. They haven’t won in South Africa since 2011 and have a winning record of 23 per cent here.

However, Cheika said it was “rubbish” to suggest the Springboks had lost their aura after three consecutive losses and possessed a forward pack lacking the menace of past encounters.

“I’d say that [criticism] is coming from people who have never had to go on the field against them,” Cheika said. “It’s easy to say that when you haven’t played against them. They’re one of the traditional powerhouses of world rugby and that doesn’t go away.

“We’re often on the receiving end of that because they’re a very powerful team and all that other stuff is rubbish. They’re the Springboks, they’re a very proud team and we are as well. I’m sure we’re going to see the best Springbok team and we’ve got to bring our game as well. It’s going to be hard but we’re going to enjoy it.”

Altitude has traditionally plagued Australian teams in South Africa in the past but Cheika is happy with the conditioning of his squad.

“I didn’t think we were fit enough coming into June and then even building up through the start of the Rugby Championship,” Cheika said. “Last week when we played Argentina we showed that resilience in defence … maybe we’re starting to get a bit of game fitness about us and we want to improve that and increase that.”

While there is the “X-factor” of winger Sefa Naivalu to watch out for off the bench, Cheika said it was time for reserve hooker James Hanson to make the step-up at international level after not featuring for the Wallabies since the USA match in September last year.

“He’s been very physical and doing significant work,” Cheika said. “James has been waiting for the opportunity and it’s here now. He’s not going to play like Tatafu [Polota-Nau], he’s got to play like James Hanson. He’s there on the ball, he’s like an extra flanker. He’s very solid in the set pieces. I want him to play his own style.”  Tweets by qantaswallabiesThis story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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