Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika has got involved in the Beauden Barrett and Richie Mo’unga debate ahead of the first Bledisloe Cup clash with the All Blacks which takes place in a little over a week’s time.
“It doesn’t really concern me I suppose but what I do know is this – Beauden Barrett has been the best player in world rugby for the last two years in a row and he’s an exceptional player”, he said.
“I’ve coached teams that have felt his wrath personally and his skill and ability.”
“There’s no doubting that Mo’unga – he’s a class player as well and a good young fella … but Barrett is class and I think there’s no doubt he’s a player the All Blacks value very much and that he’ll be out there next Saturday.”
Ahead of the match at the ANZ Stadium in Sydney, All Blacks head coach Steve Hansen labelled Australia as favourites, but it’s not something that Cheika goes along with.
“I was a little bit surprised. Hansen’s a fine coach, he’s obviously a great rugby mind, he’s leading the team that’s the best in the world, he’s a great coach. But I think he may have had that one wrong because I don’t think many of his players would believe it to be honest.”
“It’s pretty irrelevant at the end of the day, it is for the bookies, matchday will start, but yeah I was a little bit surprised when he said it.”
“I don’t think it’s very realistic, like I said, I don’t think his own players would believe it – that’s why they didn’t say it again after the presser. I really don’t know.”
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Cheika also welcomed the new five-year deal signed by his captain Michael Hooper
“Michael’s commitment to Rugby in Australia and to the Wallabies is second to none.
“He is a very proud Australian and a great representative of what we want in sport in Australia. He guarantees full commitment and effort every time he plays and he never takes a backward step.
“Every time he has pulled on the green and gold he shows this commitment, and now as captain he’s learning each day and growing into the type of leader that we need in the game.
“I know Michael can see the huge amount of young talent in the game that is coming through at the moment and I am sure it’s a big part of why he would be committing to a long-term deal,” Cheika said.
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