Wallabies wary of Cheika 2.0
IN THE SPOTLIGHT: The Wallabies say their former coach Michael Cheika is making his mark on Argentina, who they face in two Tests next month to open their Rugby Championship.
Wallabies assistant Scott Wisemantel is part of the brains-trust plotting to bring down Cheika, who steered the Pumas to a Test series victory over Scotland in Argentina earlier this month.
The Australians, meanwhile, were disappointed in another series loss to Eddie Jones’s England.
Cheika headed the Wallabies for five years until the 2019 World Cup and was elevated to the top Argentina job this year, bringing on board former NRL star forward David Kidwell as his defence coach.
Wisemantel said the Pumas played more football against Scotland than relying on their traditional kicking game.
*Article continues below…
“They had a really good series against Scotland, obviously winning the series two to one,” said Wisemantel, with the Wallabies going into camp on Tuesday on the Gold Coast.
“The style, they’re playing a lot more rugby, they’re holding the ball for longer periods and they’re doing really well so they’ll test our defence.
“Conversely, from an attacking point of view, they’re filling the front field so there’s 13 in the front line and their spacing is really broad so we’ve got to come up with a plan to attack that.”
Wisemantel said that Cheika had evolved since his time at the Wallabies, with the likes of former New Zealand representative Kidwell contributing to that.
“You’re always going to have some philosophical points that you can lean on but Cheiks changed with these assistants.
“You look at all the all the coaches with longevity in any code – [Kevin] Sheedy, [Craig] Bellamy, I look at those sorts of coaches.
“They all evolve by turning over their assistants and Cheik’s done that as well with Argentina and they’re playing some good footy.”
Falling 17-21 in the deciding Test against England, Wisemantel said the players would do a “hard review” before turning their minds to the opening match in Mendoza on August 6.
He said the obvious learning was for the Wallabies to take their chances.
“We had two tries that went begging,” Wisemantel added.
“The thing that the biggest difference between Super Rugby and Test level is at Test level you probably get four chances in a game, maximum.
“You got to take them so it’s good learning, it’s something that we’ve got to be better at.”
Wisemantel declared that two key positions – flyhalf and fullback – remained up for grabs.
Youngster Noah Lolesio started at 10 in all three England Tests following injury to Quade Cooper and James O’Connor out of sorts.
Tom Wright and Jordan Petaia are the frontrunners to play fullback.
“We don’t know – we want to see them come in, see them train, see them compete,” Wisemantel said of the contenders.