Michael Cheika is planning to make changes to the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images
Michael Cheika is planning to make changes to the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images

Cheika drops huge hint of Wallabies makeover

AUSTRALIA'S beleaguered national coach Michael Cheika has given his biggest hint yet that the Wallabies will undergo a makeover this year in the hope of catching their opponents off guard at the World Cup.

Conceding that the Wallabies are underdogs to lift the Webb Ellis Trophy in Japan later this year after struggling last season and slipping to sixth in the world rankings, Cheika said his squad would look and play differently this year as part of his strategy to have the team peak at the right time.

"With the World Cup in our sights this year we really want to build some momentum to help take our game up a level or two, I think that's really important for us," he said.

"We will have a few new tricks up our sleeve this season so we might look a little different to what most people may expect."

Cheika's keeping mum about what the new tricks are but as part of their World Cup preparations, the Wallabies have now added an extra match after agreeing to host the physical Samoans at the new Western Sydney Stadium on September 7.

Rugby Australia had been hoping to fine tune their preparations with a warm up match in the United States, as they did four years ago when the Wallabies went on to make the final, but those plans fell through so they opted instead to play Samoa on home soil.

The Wallabies had a horror year on the field in 2018, finishing with a loss against England at Twickenham. Picture: Getty
The Wallabies had a horror year on the field in 2018, finishing with a loss against England at Twickenham. Picture: Getty

"To play a team like Samoa in our takeoff game for the World Cup will be perfect," Cheika said.

"They have a mix of razzle-dazzle and physicality which will be exactly what we need before stepping out against Fiji in Sapporo."

With this year's Bledisloe Cup being played in Perth and Australia's Rugby Championship clash with Argentina taking place in Brisbane, the one-off Test against Samoa will be the Wallabies' only match in Sydney this year.

The last time the teams met was in a warm-up for the 2011 World Cup, when Samoa pulled off a stunning 32-23 win, and Wallabies back Kurtley Beale said the Pacific Islanders were the perfect team to play against before the team heads to Japan, where Australia is drawn in the same pool as Fiji, Wales, Uruguay and Georgia.

"I think the coaches will have a really good plan for us to make sure we're ready to go for the first game of the World Cup," Beale said.

"It's a great opportunity to test ourselves against a strong nation. The Samoan boys are a very unpredictable team.

"They obviously bring a physical presence to the game so it'll allow us to prepare well and make sure that we'll hit the ground running come game one in the World Cup."

News Corp Australia


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