HAPPY COACH: Michael Cheika is pleased with the off-season progress of Australia's five Super Rugby sides.
HAPPY COACH: Michael Cheika is pleased with the off-season progress of Australia's five Super Rugby sides. Alastair Grant

Cheika says fitter Aussie squads will fire in 2017

RUGBY UNION: Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is confident Australia's Super Rugby sides will perform better this season after completing an inspection tour of the five franchises.

Cheika (pictured) also backed the Brisbane Tens this weekend, saying the tournament would not only boost players' fitness but it would train a much-needed spotlight on the start of Super Rugby two weeks later.

"It's something different but it makes a bit of noise about Super Rugby, because Super Rugby is a great tournament and for mine, not enough people watch it,” Cheika said.

After spending time with the Rebels, Force, Reds and Waratahs, the Wallabies coach yesterday met the Brumbies squad as they prepared in Brisbane.

Cheika said he was pleased to see a higher level of pre-season fitness among the teams and predicted much needed better results in 2017.

Four of Australia's teams finished in the bottom half of the 2016 competition, and the Brumbies won the Australian conference despite finishing with fewer points than four New Zealand teams.

"I have been really pleased with the attitude I have seen,” Cheika said.

"We have had a lot of good energy back from the state teams and that's been really positive.

"We spoke about fitness last year ... I looked at the Force-Rebels trial the other night and for the first hit-out ... both looked pretty sharp.

"Perth in particularly looked fit and that's always a really good start too having a good season.

"I think we are going to see improved performances from our Super Rugby teams across the board this season.”



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