Cheika mulls No.8 options

Sat, 24 Sep 2016 09:27
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IN THE SPOTLIGHT: Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika will have the perfect opportunity to test different back row combinations over the next two weeks.

Cheika's loose forward configurations during the Rugby Championship has been a big talking point with many feeling that the Aussies were lacking some balance in the back row.

David Pocock and Michael Hooper are similar players and both play to the ball at the breakdowns for the Aussies. However, with Pocock, who has been playing in the No.8 jersey for the past season, out for the rest of the Rugby Championship with a fractured hand, Cheika has an opportunity to establish more versatility in the back row.

Rebels' Sean McMahon has been given an opportunity at No.8 for the Wallabies this year and he is likely to be the first choice to stand in for Pocock over the next two weekends.

"If we look non-traditional, like we've been running with, his ready replacement…[is] Sean McMahon, [he's] slightly different, very strong running player," Cheika told

"He took the spot the other day, he's been knocking on the door for quite a while."

Newcomer Lopeti Timani is another option for that No.8 jersey and Cheika said he will be considering different combinations with the players that will be available to him.

"There's a few guys starting to, younger guys that are coming into the picture that can provide that and maybe a couple of older guys coming back [you never know] that have the more traditional jumping, running, link man.

"We want to be able to have both options, so there's `going to be a few different options tried out over there." Cheika added.

Cheika also maintained that Pocock will still play an important role on their end of year tour, but he also hinted that might be experiment with some of his options against the likes of Wales, Scotland, France, Ireland and England.

"He'll [Pocock] still have an opportunity to play in that jersey or even in the seven jersey maybe," said Cheika.

"We've always wanted to have both options so we've got to make sure we’ve got the two ways to play.

"Ben McCalman's not on this trip [to Argentina and South Africa] and he's got some work ons. If he gets those right, he could be right in there as well."


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