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04 Dec

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says no extra pressure despite another Bledisloe Cup loss

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Still got the silverware: Kieran Read with the Bledisloe Cup. Photo: Anthony Au-YeungMichael Cheika says he does not feel any added personal pressure after a sixth consecutive loss, but has stressed the need for the Wallabies to build on their improved showing in Wellington.
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Allegations of eye-gouging, complaints about referees disrespecting players and clandestine meetings dominated discussion in the wake of the All Blacks’ 14th consecutive Bledisloe Cup triumph.

It doesn’t camouflage the fact the Wallabies are in a big hole that only they can dig themselves out of.

Cheika is in the midst of his biggest challenge as a coach since taking over in 2014 but says he is not feeling the heat despite the Wallabies being one loss away from equalling the mark of seven defeats in a row which led to the sacking of Eddie Jones in 2005.

“I haven’t felt any personal pressure on me,” Cheika said. “I’m not worried about that. Everyone’s doing their best, that’s something I really see from players as well. We’ve just got to be better, that’s the way it’s got to be and [we have to be] more clinical when the opportunities come.”

Despite another ugly scoreline, there were positives to take away from Wellington. There were fewer defensive lapses and Australia’s scrum is still solid, however, the problem is how to get all key components in order at the same time.

“You’ve just got to be more clinical.” Cheika said. “We’ve got to make sure we take the things that we thought we did well yesterday [Saturday] … and also get better at delivering on field with what we practice what we want to do.”

For all the pre-series barbs, All Blacks coach Steve Hansen spoke on Sunday about why it was important for rugby as a whole that the Wallabies got better quickly – something he genuinely wanted to see.

He acknowledged the Wallabies would be down and sympathised.

“You’ve got two fierce competitors, one of them’s going through a tough time,” Hansen said. “They’ve just lost six games in a row and I could only imagine what we’d be like if we were in that situation.

“If you get two brothers who are fiercely in battle and one of them’s getting a little bit of an upper hand, the other tends to not like it much. It’s just to be expected. Don’t read too much into it.”

As another year of Bledisloe rivalry finishes up – keep in mind there is a dead rubber in Auckland in October to go – one has to wonder just when the All Blacks’ streak will end.

According to Hansen, the prospect of ruining 14 years of glory was why New Zealand were able to once again rise to the challenge.

“I thought about it at the start of the process as to what it would feel like and I didn’t like the idea,” he said. “I mentioned it to a few people. They didn’t like that idea of it either, so that’s why they played as hard as they played. It’s inevitable one day someone is going to lose it for sure, I’m just hoping it’s not on my watch.”

Wallabies vice-captain Michael Hooper believes results will come, saying hard work has to pay off sooner than later, preferably in their next Test against South Africa on September 10.

“The scoreboard didn’t paint a great picture, but as far as intent of the guys at training, as far as intent of guys in the game, you can’t not build that sort of stuff and not get results at the back-end of the year,” Hooper said. “[It’s about] knowing that there’s going to be some good to come from this.”

All series Hansen has refrained from commenting specifically on the Wallabies but with another win under his belt he was relatively optimistic they could get back somewhere near their best with 10 Tests still remaining this year.

“Australian rugby is competing with other sports that might be just ahead of them at the moment from a fan point of view, so we want a strong southern hemisphere base for the game,” Hansen said.

“We want our closest neighbours to be really strong so they’ll come right though, I’m confident of that. They have got the players to be a very good side, so we’ll support them as best we can.”

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