Michael Cheika believes Wallabies can tame All Blacks after scraping to victory against Italy
Coming off a home loss to Scotland last week, Australia make six changes as they scramble to a 40-27 win over the Six Nations strugglers
Coach Michael Cheika has raised eyebrows by claiming the Wallabies can upset the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup series following their shaky win over Italy.
Australia, coming off a home loss to Scotland the previous week, made six changes as they scrambled to a 40-27 win over the Six Nations strugglers in Brisbane on Saturday.
The Wallabies held a tenuous 28-27 lead with four minutes remaining, but conjured two late tries to salvage victory over the Azzurri.
Wallaby back Karmichael Hunt reflected what many were thinking when he said after the final whistle: “We just can’t afford to do that against the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship because they’ll kill us.”
Cheika took the opposite tack, talking up their chances of beating the world champions in Sydney on August 19.
“The performance (against Italy) wasn’t up to winning that match, for sure,” he told reporters after Saturday’s game.
“We’ve got to get our work right in the next six to eight weeks that’s left before that first Test (against New Zealand) so we don’t play like that, we play much better.”
Australia’s players now return to Super Rugby for the last two weeks of the regular season, before reassembling to prepare for the All Blacks.
Cheika said he was confident they can pull off a major shock against a team that beat the British and Irish Lions 30-15 in Auckland on Saturday.
“I know everyone’s having a laugh when I say that, but I believe with that clear goal we can go there and do that,” he said.
“We’ve got to work extra hard and we’ve got to be prepared to work even harder once we come out of Super Rugby for that little (training) block to be ready because it’s a key element to staying in the game.”
Wallabies captain Stephen Moore, meanwhile, lashed Super Rugby franchises for not preparing players for the rigours of Test rugby.
He backed Cheika’s comments throughout the June Test series, saying players simply weren’t fit enough for the international arena.
“It shouldn’t be hard for Super Rugby to produce players that are ready for Test match footy,” Moore said.
“I don’t know what the issue is there, but we need to make sure the next two months or whatever it is ... we can’t waste a day.
“There is a gap between Super Rugby and Test rugby, the intensity’s up, but that doesn’t mean we can’t train like we have to play Test footy.”
Wallabies winger Sefa Naivalu is in doubt for the Bledisloe Cup opener after suffering an ankle injury against Italy and will be out for up to seven weeks.