Cheika: Aussies are hungrier
Cheika: Aussies are hungrierSHARE
Waratahs coach Michael Cheika believes that the Australian conference is more competitive this year because the teams have shown more hunger.
Cheika's team earned a valuable four points on the road against the Stormers at Newlands on Saturday to make it three Australian teams in the top five with the Brumbies and Force also getting up for wins.
He said that the resurgence of Australian rugby this year is encouraging after being the 'poor cousins' of the SANZAR trio for so long.
"I like what I've seen from the teams so far this year – [they are] more hungry to be involved in the contest," he said.
"We've probably been the poor cousin of the SANZAR triumvirate for a while and it's about time we started to get into it a little bit more.
"That's not to say that we're going to win but at least make ourselves present and say 'we're going to have a go here' and get stuck in.
"It will be seen at the end of the season and who is in the finals but so far it's quite competitive," he added.
The Waratahs coach said that his team had caught the Stormers at an ideal time and took advantage to earn their first-ever win in Cape Town.
"To be fair to the Stormers, I think we got them at just the right time. They've come back from a long tour, they're missing several key players and we were a week into our three weeks so we were all feeling sharp.
"We got them in a good week. They had just had four weeks on tour, had a few injuries, no Jean de Villiers, no Schalk Burger, no Gio Aplon – so it hurt them.
"So I think we have to be realistic around that too, but we took advantage of the situation, put them under a bit of pressure and were able to come away with something."
"Without going too far away from our attacking game, which I don't think we did, one of the big things we wanted to do was build pressure," Cheika said.
He explained that with the Stormers already under pressure, he knew that they had a good chance of taking some points back to Australia with them as they get ready to face the high-flying Force in Perth.
"In a season where it seems the ledger of home-and-away wins is going to be quite important, any away win you get is going to be quite valuable.
"We knew the Stormers were under a little bit of pressure so [we were] trying to build a bit of pressure around keeping the ball in that part of the field instead of going for that one extra pass that we're guilty of sometimes at scrum and at line-out," he said.