Set-piece the focus for Cheika

Sun, 11 Jun 2017 07:42
Large michael cheika observes 800

REACTION: The Wallabies are expecting a set-piece challenge from Scotland in their next outing after disposing of Fiji in their Test season opener, coach Michael Cheika said.

Israel Folau and Henry Speight scored try doubles as Australia downed the Fijians 37-14 in Melbourne on Saturday and will face the Scots in Sydney next weekend.

The Wallabies always had the game under their control leading 18-0 at half-time and outscored the Fijians five tries to two.

Scotland will offer a vastly different challenge to the unstructured Fijians and Cheika said he would likely be making team changes, highlighting the backrow and wings as areas with the tightest competition within his 34-man squad.

"[Scotland bring] more challenge in the set piece," Cheika told reporters after Saturday's Test win.

"Fiji aren't your team that's going to go mauling and stuff like that and that's by nature of their quality and the identity of that team.

We're looking at all the things that can be insurance for our attacking game and that's set piece, defence and work rate and against Fiji I'd say set piece was six out of 10,"

Cheika was also mindful the Wallabies beat fifth-ranked Scotland by just one point in their previous two meetings and lost to them 6-9 in their last home encounter in 2012.

"We don't have a forecast plan in advance but we might throw out a few changes next week, see how we go," he said.

It has been a dreadful time in the Australian game, with uncertainty over whether Western Force or the Melbourne Rebels will be axed next year and some poor performances from all five Super Rugby teams.

"We've taken a bit of the hurt from Super Rugby to take out there, and to almost put 40 points on [against Fiji] was very pleasing," skipper Michael Hooper said.

Another big positive was the assured Test debut of code-hopper Karmichael Hunt at unaccustomed inside centre.

The dual rugby international was composed and a perfect interplay link between roaming fullback Folau and flyhalf Bernard Foley.

Hunt had a hand in Folau's second try and was solid in defence and attack against the unpredictable Fijians.

"I really enjoyed it and tried to get involved as much as I could. It's good to get that one out of the way," Hunt said.

"I was very surprised [to start at 12] and my head started spinning but I managed to get my head around the plays.

"It's super cool to be back out on the park with Izzy [Folau],"

Hunt and Folau are the only players in Australian history who have been dual rugby internationals and played Australian Rules football at senior level in the AFL.

Hunt, whose introduction to rugby in 2015 was blighted by a cocaine scandal stemming from his days in the AFL, made his Wallabies debut aged 30.

"It's very satisfying. Obviously, my journey hasn't been an easy one, self-inflicted, but I put my hand up from the start and I just wanted work my way into form and this year I've done that," Hunt said.

Agence France-Presse