Cheika factor a threat to Wallabies
TRI-NATIONS SPOTLIGHT: Larrikin Wallabies flank Ned Hanigan is treating Argentina as a serious threat in Saturday’s Tri-Nations Test, adamant they won’t arrive flat after a historic defeat of New Zealand last weekend.
Los Pumas beat the All Blacks for the first time last Saturday, helped in the coaching box by former Wallabies mentor Michael Cheika.
The result has thrown the Tri-Nations tournament wide open ahead of Saturday’s clash in Newcastle after the Wallabies had snapped a losing run of their own against the Kiwis the previous week.
Hanigan was handed his first Test cap by Cheika three years ago and wasn’t surprised by what he saw.
“Having Cheik [Cheika] in the team, he has that motivating aspect and knows Australian rugby very well so he’ll definitely be an asset [on Saturday],” Hanigan said.
“He just loves winning … he hates losing and loves winning so I think he’s taking both.”
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The free-wheeling Argentina, powered by an impressive forward pack, have upset the Wallabies in the past when given the chance.
With Argentina’s tail already up its the unforced errors Hanigan knows could cost them again as the Wallabies look to turn their last-start defeat of the All Blacks two weeks ago into a habit.
“The passion and pride they’ve got in the jersey; you could see the reaction after the game,” he said.
“That on-field energy you keep building with the bloke next to him, the key is for us to not give them the opportunities to get those sort of moments.
“In past games we’ve probably thrown the willy-nilly [pass] out the back, that sort of stuff just lets the momentum keep building in the opposition’s favour.”
Australian coach Dave Rennie could be spared a selection headache for the Newcastle clash, with his first-choice No.10 James O’Connor likely to be unavailable for the Test with a fresh foot injury.
The Queensland playmaker had started in the first two Tests under Rennie before a knee injury saw Noah Lolesio then Reece Hodge fill his boots in subsequent games.
It means Hodge, fresh off playing a cool hand in their defeat of the All Blacks, has the inside running to retain the No.10 for the first time in his career despite Lolesio’s sharp cameo off the bench in the same game.
Elsewhere rookie prop Angus Bell will battle Scott Sio for the starting role vacated by James Slipper.
The 20-year-old, whose father Mark also played for Australia, replaced Slipper late in the first half after the 100-Test prop dislocated his elbow.
“It was better I just got chucked in. No thinking, just straight into it,” Bell said of his early entrance.
“It was the best week of my life, very special … an awesome day and [there was] no advice [from dad]; just go as hard as you can.”