Michael Cheika's strategy is coming under fire. Picture: Getty
Michael Cheika's strategy is coming under fire. Picture: Getty

Cheika moving World Cup pieces from shadows

IT would be borderline absurd for Wallabies coach Michael Cheika to have no input at all into grooming players in positions that suit his World Cup plans.

He might not be able to instruct Super Rugby coaches where to play certain players but it makes sense that there be a nudge in their convivial chats.

I'm thinking particularly of Lukhan Salakaia-Loto and Reece Hodge.

Salakaia-Loto is playing some of his best rugby for the Reds and in his preferred position of blindside flanker.

He seems more agile in his work as if his game is actually modifying to the demands of the position.

Last year, he most often seemed like a lock just wearing a No.6 and his impact fluctuated markedly during games because of it.

The No.6 spot is a huge headache for the Wallabies and they have to get it right with a big, bruising frame like his with running, offloading and lineout-winning traits.

It's stuck with me that Cheika always said that Hodge's time would come for a permanent position somewhere if he accepted his "Mr Fix-It" days as part of his evolution.

A little Dave Wessels-Cheika chat may have helped get him to outside centre for the Melbourne Rebels.

Reece Hodge is flying at outside centre. Picture: AAP
Reece Hodge is flying at outside centre. Picture: AAP

Fielding the right centre pairing is another hot point for the Wallabies.

Samu Kerevi just looks the business as a go-forward inside centre and you need an outside centre who can pass, make a thrust and fit in anywhere in attack.

As well as Tevita Kuridrani is playing for the Brumbies his game is too much like Kerevi so it's one or the other.

It was a joy to watch flyhalf Cooper's passing game carve up the Sunwolves...the fast, flat ball to Hodge, the two-touch loop play on lock Matt Philip and the perfect 25m long ball out in front of Marika Koroibete.

The Rebels play some of the most watchable footy in Super Rugby.

Will Genia (bottom) tris to stop Sunwolves' Amanaki Mafi at the weekend.
Will Genia (bottom) tris to stop Sunwolves' Amanaki Mafi at the weekend.

Little general Will Genia will have until Wednesday to show he has recovered from a head knock in Tokyo.

It's far more likely he will rest against the NSW Waratahs in Melbourne on Friday night.

The Rebels sit a worthy fifth overall with their 7-6 record but are only four points ahead of the 10th-placed Highlanders.

That's how close it is and how much work is still to be done over the closing three rounds.

SUPER RUGBY: THE RUN HOME

Brumbies (34 points) v Sunwolves (A), Waratahs (A), Reds (H)

Rebels (33) v Waratahs (H), Crusaders (A), Chiefs (H)

Waratahs (26) v Rebels (A), Brumbies (H), Highlanders (A)

Reds (24) v Jaguares (H), Blues (H), Brumbies (A)

News Corp Australia


Farming patriarch defends trading insolvent claim

premium_icon Farming patriarch defends trading insolvent claim

Barbera denies claims he traded while insolvent

Six local GoFundMe campaigns more worthy than Israel Folau's

premium_icon Six local GoFundMe campaigns more worthy than Israel Folau's

If you're looking to support worthwhile causes, here's six in Bundy

UPDATE: Photos emerge of charter boat inferno

premium_icon UPDATE: Photos emerge of charter boat inferno

The incident is happening 20km off shore