Australia coach Michael Cheika fires up, calls England 'dull'

Michael Cheika, the Wallaby head coach looks on during an Australian Wallabies Captain's Run at AAMI Park. Photo / Getty
Michael Cheika, the Wallaby head coach looks on during an Australian Wallabies Captain's Run at AAMI Park. Photo / Getty

Australia may have lost the series against England but their head coach, Michael Cheika, remains defiant ahead of the final Test in Sydney, insisting he will not deviate from his side's style of rugby and describing England's play in their victories in Brisbane and Melbourne as "dull".

Cheika has underscored his intent to stay true to what he believes is the only way for Australia to play the game by re-instating Matt Toomua as a second playmaker at inside centre in place of the more direct running of Samu Kerevi in one of three changes from the side who lost 23-7 in Melbourne.

Rob Simmons has also been recalled after being dropped for the second Test, while Will Skelton, the 6ft 8in, 22st Waratahs lock, makes his first start since the World Cup pool win against Uruguay last September.

Cheika expects England to open up tomorrow, with the series already won, but drew clear lines of distinction between his approach and that of counterpart Eddie Jones, including media comments.

"Maybe now they've won the series they'll open up a bit more," Cheika said. "I'd imagine you'll probably see it in some of their selections. Teams that I think are dull throw it around a little bit more because they've won the series. They'll be a bit freer, I suppose. He [Jones] has got a different style to me.

"When you are coaching a club, it's a little bit different because you can get stuck in a bit more, you can have a bit of edge or ribbing, you can play that card. But, for me, when you are coaching your country, there is a different responsibility. That's how I see it. We're still building as a team."

Cheika is hoping that while Simmons and Skelton will add more ball-carrying ballast to his pack, the selection of Toomua will give his backline a second playmaker alongside Bernard Foley.

"We are not set up to play kick-and-chase footy," said Cheika. "We play running rugby and you need a platform, a mobile tight five who can be strong also in set-piece. Ever since I came in, our game been based on double playmaker. We haven't been able to do that due to injuries and guys missing.

"Matt will definitely add that, but we have taken out one of our best impact players in the young fella, Kerevi, whom we've been happy with.

"But I believe you stick at it. We should play rugby the way we want to play the game. I've always been involved with teams for whom playing footy is part of their identity.

"That's the way I want to coach. I know that comes with risk but I'm not scared of that risk. At the same time, I don't want us to be reckless in terms of how we play; we've just to be better at it. That's all there is to it.

"Speaking to a lot of our supporters, they want to see us keep playing footy. They don't always understand why you lose but they want to see us keep playing footy. I want to do that, too, and I'm prepared to continue to do that for as long as it takes for us to play that way consistently."

Jones has constantly referred to Cheika as the best coach in the world, a reference to his World Rugby award last year. But Cheika suggested he doubted his former Randwick team-mate's sincerity on the issue.

"In the bigger picture, it's all peripheral," Cheika added. "That fact that he has referred to that shows how peripheral it is, because I know he doesn't mean that. It's true. Even the opposition coach jokes about it. The reality is Steve Hansen [the New Zealand head coach] probably should have won it anyway.

"I don't know why they gave it to me. But I'm not worried about that other bit. It's all peripheral, it's entertainment, yes. But I want to do the best I can, having been given the opportunity to coach Australia. I want to make sure I have no ego about it. The only people I want to impress and make respect me are players and the Australian rugby public.

"We [him and Jones] play different footie. All the teams I've been involved with as coach have always played lots of footie, and if it doesn't happen you get hit on the counter.

"I believe passionately about the way we want to play the game. I've never been a popular guy, it's not always gone right for me, I'm used to being in this situation where it's not easy and you've got to earn it.

"It's obviously not nice to lose games at home. But look at how England are bouncing back. Yes, it's tough, but rugby is a game about getting up off the floor and fighting back. Yes, a lot of chaps want to kick you when you are down, but you'll always keep the scars and the bruises for later on, remember where they are."

- Daily Telegraph UK

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