The Wallabies squad will take on an Aussie Super Rugby Selection next Friday at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, as preparations ramp up ahead of the Bledisloe Cup opener.
The full-contact trial will be a break from recent tradition for the Wallabies with the competition heating up for a berth in Michael Cheika’s side for the Bledisloe Cup clash against New Zealand at ANZ Stadium on Saturday, August 18.
“We were keen to have more Super Rugby teams playing for longer, obviously, and if we look at the last two years we just want to keep the intensity of footy up,” said Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika.
Cheika spoke to Rugby.com.au ahead of this trial match…
“Spending five weeks on the sideline before a Bledisloe Test match is not what we want ideally. We want guys to play footy.
“It’s not just about the contact, because you can get all that in training. But just the little things. The pressure in front of a crowd, the referee telling you what to do, the dressing room build up, all those things. The mental side of footy,” Cheika said.
The trial will not incorporate the use of a Television Match Official (TMO) with Rugby Australia still contemplating other rule initiatives.
Australia have not won the Rugby Championship since 2015 when they triumphed over rivals New Zealand in two tightly contested matches. The men in Gold will be hoping that they can draw on the skills of players such as Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale to achieve success in this year’s competition.
It has only been four weeks since Australia narrowly lost 2-1 to Ireland in the Summer Series. Some important lessons were learned for the Wallabies, one of these is that Australia needs to re-learn how to close a game out. On three occasions Cheika’s men found themselves ahead of Ireland, only to concede late points in the dying moments of the match.
Australia captain Michael Hooper has been frustrated by the national team’s lack of cutting edge of late. Hooper said:
“We put ourselves in with a chance to win it right at the end but left so much out there during that middle 50 in the game,” Hooper said.
I’m aware that this team can be so great, we’ve got so many threats across the field and we were just a bit short there tonight. Our kicking probably summed up how the game went. Just not in the right spot. Being 30 centimetres off the mark.
Cheika and Hooper will have to hope that this trial match will stand the team in good stead for the Rugby Championship at the end of August.
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