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Volavola's value being noticed

Tue, 05 Mar 2013 12:55
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Waratahs newcomer Ben Volavola has provided Michael Cheika with a serious selection conundrum after providing two great off-the-bench performances.

The outside back could be credited for his teams turnaround last week when he came on and injected much needed energy and flair into the backline after they had looked flat for most of the game.

Those two performances have made Cheika sit up and take notice.

He told the Sydney Morning Herald: "I'll have another look at the game and see, he's [Volavola] obviously putting himself right up there for the opportunity to get in from the start."

"I always like to have the options in the game if necessary but maybe I need to change the game from the start. He's definitely making it hard for me not to pick him."

The decision to put Volavola at fullback and nudge Israel Folau onto the wing seemed to create more of a balance in the team although Folau looked a lot more comfortable in the game against the Rebels than he did against the Reds in their opening encounter.

It seemed that the presence of Volavola gave Folau more confidence to run with the ball and create chances. This lead to the decisive Bernard Foley try in the second-half after he opened up a gap on the inside for Mitchell Chapman who slipped the pass to Foley who went over to level the scores.

Cheika said: "I'm not thinking about anything too different positionally, for him [Folau] it's more the pressure coming from players on the bench."

"If you think about the way we like to play it's not that easy to do with one playmaker, it's a lot of work," Cheika mentioned.

"[Volavola at fullback] gave Bernard [Foley] a bit more freedom to attack the line a bit more and not be as focused on distribution. Same with [halfback Brendan McKibbin], it allowed him some freedom around that," explained the coach.

Cheika has mentioned his sides inability to contain the play-makers in the opposition.

"We've had a bit of trouble dealing with players who have a bit of that X-factor, like Kurtley [Beale] made a few runs that were hard to stop and James O'Connor," he said.

He realises that the Brumbies have a number of players that can also cause his defence a number of problems.

"The Brumbies have a couple of those and we can't change the way we defend on guys like that who have good footwork, we've got to defend the same way."

Cheika has singled out Brumbies fullback Jesse Mogg as a player that they are going to have to watch out for. The Brumbies No.15 has had a phenomenal start to the season and the Waratahs coach understands the importance of trying to keep him under wraps.

"He may not have a big side step but he's got blinding acceleration off the mark and that's footwork in itself," he said. "If you stop on a guy like that he'll take off and pass you."

He feels that his side can take a lot of heart out of their come from behind performance against the Rebels and will be hoping that his team can continue this in a tough trip to Canberra this weekend.

No one went into their shells and tried to play catch-up footy, or overplayed their hand, the whole team stuck together and that second half was a real team performance," Cheika added.

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