IT WAS A strange week for Michael Cheika back on Irish soil.
Clearly, priority number one for the former Leinster head coach was securing a win over Joe Schmidt’s Ireland, but there were also reunions aplenty as the Australian bumped into old friends.
His primary mission failed at the Aviva Stadium last night, and the Wallabies boss admitted defeat hurt that little bit more against many familiar faces.
“It’s hard to really like people and then want to go out and smash them on Saturday, you know?” smiled Cheika post-match.
“I knew everyone was lying to me when they said ‘good luck,’ but I think that’s the nature of rugby. It’s one of the great things about rugby, that atmosphere where you have mixed emotions.”
Cheika made no excuses in his post-match press conference. Source: Ryan Byrne/INPHO
Although Cheika bemoaned some of referee Glen Jackson’s decision during Ireland’s 26-23 victory, he was also quick to put his hands up and accept that his Wallabies team hadn’t done enough.
“I’m not an excuse-maker,” said Cheika, “so I don’t want to look for excuses at all.”
The ex-back row indicated that the Wallabies played against “a rain of bombs, a lot of high kicking,” from Ireland, but was pleased with his own team’s ability to frequently win the collisions and then threaten wider out.
Cheika stated that Australia had not been surprised by the Irish tactics, and also underlined that he felt his forwards had stood up to the test well.
“I think they probably thought that when they [Ireland] carried ball they could out-muscle us a bit. I think most teams think they can out-muscle us there, so it’s up to us to harden right up and belie that image that there is of us. I’m not sure why it’s there.
Ireland held on in the closing stages with some excellent defence. Source: Colm O’Neill/INPHO
“We knew they’d kick high, we knew they’d kick away from Folau a lot. They pretty much did what we’d seen before and what has been a very successful formula for them.
“Obviously they were kicking a lot, so when they kicked to us and we kicked back to them, we found ourselves a little bit short a couple of times back there.
As Cheika turns his attention to next weekend and a clash with Stuart Lancaster’s England, he is certain that Ireland are well placed to be contenders at next year’s Rugby World Cup.
“They’ve got a very clear style of rugby and they’re doing it very well. They’ll back themselves to do that and they’re obviously going to be a big threat going into the World Cup next year, no doubt about it.”
Reporting by Sean Farrell.
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