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18 Mar 2018 18:49
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Rugby

    Michael Cheika vows to pressure All Blacks

    Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says his team must focus on applying pressure to the All Blacks in the Bledisloe Cup opener.

    Australian rugby has never needed a victory over the All Blacks more.

    After the worst week in its worst season in memory, the code in Australia is crying out for some reason to feel hopeful for the future.

    Michael Cheika's new-look Wallabies could provide that if they pull off what appears a mission impossible against world champions New Zealand in the Bledisloe Cup opener in Sydney on Saturday.

    Bookmakers have shown what they think of their chances, with Australia $6.25 long shots and New Zealand playing just $1.12 to win.

    Cheika is making no promises but has hinted at plans to take a leaf from the British and Irish Lions' playbook by applying pressure to the All Blacks at every turn with swarming defence.

    He's been preparing his team to go the distance at pace by working intensively on their fitness in recent weeks.

    "I am not saying it is going to be easy," said Cheika on the Nine Network's Sports Sunday.

    "But at the same time I believe that, with the right preparation, we've still got a week to go, getting the guys in the right mindset.

    "The target needs to be to put New Zealand under pressure, not necessarily to go out there and win.

    "Then we will see what happens from there, we'll see if we can take the pickings."

    Cheika doesn't need reminding that Australian Super Rugby teams were 0-26 in games against New Zealand opposition and the code has been hit hard by last week's decision to axe the Western Force.

    But he believes the right steps have been taken to "renovate" the Wallabies squad since their World Cup final loss to the All Blacks in 2015.

    He pointed to nearly 20 new caps blooded since, with only about a dozen of the 2015 World Cup squad remaining.

    Cheika said his biggest concern over the axing of the Force was for the "huge" rugby supporter base in Western Australia.

    "The professional players, yes, they understand that they could go from one team to another.

    "But the most difficult thing is for the fan base .

    "Rugby has got a huge volunteer network around the country growing there in Perth obviously so that's going to be hard for them to take."


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