Michael Cheika says he must shake off bitter Bledisloe Cup disappointment and set about finalising a Rugby World Cup squad on the back of two extreme polar opposite performances from his Wallabies.
Australia’s coach found himself in a familiar position of having to apologise to supporters after the 36-0 whitewash from the All Blacks at Eden Park on Saturday.
A near-identical team had crushed the world champions 47-26 in Perth seven days earlier, making it even harder to take for those wanting 17 years of Bledisloe Cup heartache to end.
Cheika insisted the result won’t impact on their World Cup hopes in Japan but said it will take time to get over another failed trans-Tasman tilt.
“Confidence won’t be dented but obviously disappointment is there,” he said.
“Back home everyone was pumped for the game. They were excited after game one and we were so disappointed that we couldn’t give those people what they expected and make them proud of us.
“You have to take it on the chin and make sure if this is going to happen to you, that you understand one or two key things that you take forward so you can be successful.”
The 31-man Wallabies squad will be announced on Friday, forcing Cheika and the selectors to pick over the wreckage of Eden Park and measure it with the superb rugby on show at Perth.
He said it was important not to over-react to the loss, despite being just the second time they’ve been kept scoreless in any Test in 46 years.
“If you’d ask me how I was feeling yesterday, or before the game – I’m feeling really good about the improvements we’ve made,” he said.
“As terribly disappointed as I am about this game, I’m not going to throw those (feelings) away am I?
“I’ve got to put it into context, keep trying to build on those things and be resilient, don’t let this get you down.”
The only thing Cheika could say with certainty is that his team are better than the Wallabies of 2018, who lost nine of 13 Tests.
That side barely fired a shot but now have a resilience he believes will serve them well in Japan.
“I’m not going to score a positive after a night like tonight but there’s certainly things we can build on moving forward that we didn’t have in ’18,” he added.
“Yes, you’re going to be sad and disappointed but suck it up and get ready for the next game and build into the World Cup, just how we’ve always planned to.”
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