Cheika prepares for Irish assault
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is preparing for an Irish assault on Aussie soil after the new champions of Europe claimed a historic Grand Slam and the overall number two ranking in World Rugby.
He was there first-hand to witness Ireland's Six Nations championship, taking note of the side that will visit for a three-match series in June. It will be the second time in three years that Australia will host the Six Nations champions after England toured in 2016 under an Eddie Jones resurgence.
The 0-3 defeat at the hands of the English took the wind out of the sails of Australian rugby, who were coming off the back of a Rugby World Cup Final appearance in 2015 but Cheika believes the side will be better placed to handle Ireland.
"One hundred percent, we've got a lot more experience in those young players," Cheika told reporters in Sydney.
"We've had 26 debutants since then, of which there is probably 20 or so [still] around the squad.
"If you see some of those guys now, Adam Coleman is the captain of Melbourne, Izack Rodda, a standout player in the Reds battles this year so far.
"Reece Hodge is a [Wallabies] regular who has played all over the backline for us.
"Then you've got players like Marika Koroibete, who have come in.
"A lot of those players have become important players, both for their Super Rugby teams and also in our own set-up.
"With the experience that we've had between that time and now we're in a lot better shape."
Cheika is familiar with Ireland's setup, having coached five years at Leinster where the club won a European title in 2009 before handing over the reins to Joe Schmidt.
"I'm not surprised by Ireland's rise, they have been showing those signs of consistency in the way they've played," Cheika said.
"They've also got a very good young batch of players as well coming through, as do we.
"They've got some quality players some of whom I’ve coached for many years."
"Ireland have taken the bar up as far as the consistency of play and how they're delivering their footy," he said.
With talk of player fatigue following a hectic 12 months schedule, the possibility of resting players for the Australian tour exists. However, Cheika would be surprised if they didn't bring a full-strength squad.
"I don't know what they'll do.
"I see some very, very handy players there as well.
"Johnny's [Sexton] back up, Joey Carbery, he could be playing in many international teams already, but he's just not playing because he's got a player like Sexton in front of him.
"I'd be surprised if they didn't bring everyone.
"They're No.2 in the world now, so they'll be looking to keep that status I'd say and going into the lead up to the World Cup I'd be surprised if they didn't bring everyone."