Rugby Union 10 months ago

Wallabies 'not in Paris for a holiday'

  • Wallabies 'not in Paris for a holiday'

    Australian Wallabies rugby coach Michael Cheika (2/R) speaks to his players during a training session, in Sydney on October 20, 2016. The Wallabies are looking to halt the New Zealand All Blacks' bid for a world-record 18th consecutive Test win to be played in Auckland on 22 October, 2016. / AFP / WILLIAM WEST (Photo credit should read WILLIAM WEST/AFP/Getty Images)

The Wallabies have rejected suggestions they will prioritise a historic grand slam win over this weekend's clash with France, with Michael Cheika arguing every decision made is done with the sole goal of winning Tests.

Cheika is expected to make sweeping changes to the starting XV for Saturday's Test at Stade de France, with several stars expected to be rested for the all-important fixtures against Ireland and England to follow.

Victories in those two matches would secure a first grand slam since 1984 - currently the Wallabies' only successful grand slam result from nine attempts.

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Cheika knows how valuable that success would be for this team and for Australian rugby, but the thought of going into any Test match half-cocked rankles him.

"I'm not going to just blank the chat of a grand slam and everything like that. I know that's very important," he said in Paris on Monday.

"But everytime we play Test footy it's probably the be all and end all for us at this level.

"I know that probably looks sideways, but it's not club footy, it's different. You've got to make sure that whatever decisions we make, they're all made with the intent of winning a Test match."

Cheika has memories of his last Spring Tour, in 2014, where a first-up victory over Wales was quickly forgotten when they were stunned by France the following week.

Cheika believes his team lost focus and, as a result, that defeat fed into losses to Ireland and England as the tour ended in disappointment.

He says the lessons learned on that trip, and a get-out-of-jail, wake-up-call win over Scotland last weekend, will ensure his team isn't underdone on Saturday.

"As much as we felt like we were probably in the middle of (playing our best footy) last week (against Scotland), we didn't - because our performance focus wasn't there," Cheika said.

"If we start thinking about the bigger picture issues we'll lose sight of what we've got to do tomorrow.

"I can assure you from having coached over here and now having coached teams coming here, that if you take your eye off the ball for a day and you rock up to Stade de France in front of 80,000 French people, you'll go home accordingly.

"We want to be ready to play some better football than we played against Scotland."

Cheika is loath to refer to any prospective changes this week as part of a rotation, but foreshadowed there would be a different starting lineup to that which faced Scotland - not least of all because of a tour-ending knee injury to key lock Adam Coleman.

New faces - potentially including some of the eight who joined the squad in Paris after completing Barbarians duties - will get a chance to prove themselves in the Test arena.

"I don't think we played as well against Scotland as we did against Wales and I think that some other players should have the opportunity to get in there and have a go at it," Cheika said.

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