Fiji’s Asaeli Tikoirotuma bumps Michael Hooper in the Pool A clash in Cardiff. Photo: Getty Images
You can call it the Japanese Effect – or simply tournament management.
But the Wallabies are adamant they made the right moves in a physically brutal contest against Fiji and they have would not change their tactics after scoring three tries in the first 42 minutes of the game.
Stand-in Wallabies captain Hooper made the call to protect the Australia’s lead by taking a penalty shot in the last 10 minutes of their 25-13 win against Fiji in Cardiff.
Timely reminder for Cheika’s men to be vigilant. Photo: Getty Images
The Wallabies had a brush with World Cup espionage after security was forced to chase off a man hiding in bushes with a long-lens camera next to their training ground.
Australia have felt removed from all the serious World Cup hype in tranquil Bath, but that was shattered yesterday when a man with a long-lens camera was spotted by World Rugby security lurking in bushes adjacent to the field where they’ve been training at Bath University.
The session was private and the training field is surrounded by high fences with hessian. But the man was spotted in one mangrove-like area that has a view of the field.
David Pocock will man the back of the Wallabies scrum against Fiji. Photo: Getty Images
The star quality of the Wallabies’ openside flankers Michael Hooper and David Pocock is undeniable and has forced coach Michael Cheika’s hand in starting them both against Fiji.
Australia will roll out the brilliant back-row, including rugged blindside flanker Scott Fardy, with Pocock filling the No8 jersey, in their World Cup opener in Cardiff on Wednesday.
It is just the second time the pair will have started a match together, following a successful outing in a 27-19 win over the All Blacks in Sydney in August, but Cheika admits the combination cannot be held back any longer.
Michael Cheika, Australia’s coach, fields the questions at the MacDonald Bath Spa hotel on Tuesday. Photograph: Dan Mullan/Getty Images
Michael Cheika believes that all five teams in Pool A will be feeling concerned about their World Cup prospects but welcomes the challenge
Australia does not sack its rugby coaches with quite the regularity it dumps prime ministers. However, if Michael Cheika is to keep the Wallabies job longer than Tony Abbott ran the country then results at the World Cup clearly have to go his way, no easy matter considering the opposition – three sides in the world’s top 10 – coming his way.
First up Fiji, the new Pacific champions and ranked ninth in the world, followed by Uruguay, pool outsiders but still inside World Rugby’s top 20, England, the home nation ranked fourth, and then Wales, one further off in fifth spot.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika and Stephen Moore. Photo: Roar
By Brett McKay Roar
The experimentation is over, or at least it should be. With the Wallabies’ 47-10 win over the Unites States behind us, the Rugby World Cup is now front and centre.
So what did the win over the Eagles tell us?
Henry Speight will debut against the Barbarians. Photo: Roar
New Wallaby coach Michael Cheika dealt Australian rugby a royal flush with his first cards on the table to meet the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.
Four selections stand out.
Naming the tireless Matt Hodgson as skipper for the opener is a masterstroke, recognising the huge season he had leading the Force.
Optimistic coach Michael Cheika . . . ready for another mountain. Photo: News Limited
Michael Cheika will embrace the Wallabies coaching challenge in the same cavalier fashion that led the NSW Waratahs to long-awaited Super Rugby glory in 2014.
After a whirlwind pursuit by the ARU, Cheika was formally ushered in as Ewen McKenzie’s replacement on Wednesday and said he had no hesitation accepting the daunting role despite the last two coaches’ reigns ending in despair.