The last two Bledisloe Cup tests in Sydney and Auckland have taken a physical and mental toll on the All Blacks and their coaches.

It took a supreme effort to retain the cup in such an emphatic way, with All Blacks coach Steve Hansen describing their upcoming week off before they play Argentina in Nelson on September 8 as a "godsend".

There is a feeling of relief within that the last fortnight is successfully over but it will take time and effort to get into the right shape to prepare for their next challenge.

So imagine how the Wallabies and their coach Michael Cheika are feeling. They were supremely confident in the days leading up to the tests at ANZ Stadium and Eden Park of being able to seriously challenge the All Blacks and conceded bonus point defeats in both.


If anything, the gap between the teams appears to be growing, and Cheika's performance in front of the media after the latest loss, a 40-12 demolition that could have been far worse given two tries were ruled out due to a knock-on and a forward pass, should worry his team and his employers.

Cheika blamed turnovers for the defeat and said his side didn't have enough players on their feet in the defensive line when the All Blacks pilfered the ball.

That is primarily connected with attitude and fitness, two areas the All Blacks excel in. A message former assistant coach Wayne Smith used to deliver time and again was that if you're not on your feet you're not in the game.

While the true cause of the Wallabies loss appeared to be missed tackles (42 from the Wallabies and 25 from the All Blacks), and the fact that, really, they aren't on the same level as the All Blacks, Cheika should be worried if he truly believes that not enough of his players were in the game and attempting to emulate the ball-stealing feats of David Pocock and Michael Hooper.

"We need to get more people up on their feet when a turnover is on and get it done and close down the threat," Cheika said.

Kieran Read stretches for the lineout ball. Photo / Photosport
Kieran Read stretches for the lineout ball. Photo / Photosport

The Wallabies head coach is loyal to his men but now Rugby Australia should question whether he can still get the best out of them. Complicating factors are there don't appear to be any obvious alternatives and that the World Cup is only 12 months away.

Afterwards Cheika was asked: "How are you going to handle this next period?"

"How do you mean?" he replied.


"With lots of pressure on you, pressure on the team to win, pressure on you about your job."

"If you're naïve enough to think I'm worried about myself here you don't know me at all," was Cheika's reply to the Australian reporter. "You've known me for a while now. The last person I'm thinking of is me. I want Australia to play good rugby and to be the best it can be. If you think that I'm worried about myself then you've never known me.

"Some people might do rugby coaching for a job, I'm doing it as a passion and want Australia to win more than anything."

Asked if there would be an internal debate about the best time to leave, he snapped again.

"Mate you wouldn't have a clue. You wouldn't know - you've never coached anyone. You don't know if there's a debate going on in my mind, I don't know where you come off saying something like that.

"If you think there's a debate going on in your own mind you need to take some pills to sort it out because there ain't no debate going on in my mind."

A day after the test, Hansen admitted to "tension" and "stress" in the coaches' box. He and the rest of the group will be taking some time off before assembling in Nelson and Cheika and the Wallabies are in desperate need for that before they assemble in Brisbane to play the Springboks.

"I think it's getting harder and harder, yeah," was Hansen's reply about the difficult of backing up twice in a fortnight. "The week off is a godsend. Having to play another test match this week would be just about impossible without making big changes. Having the week off is really important."