Cheika keen to keep Test veterans

Test coach Michael Cheika wants a post-World Cup transition phase with veteran Wallabies welcoming in the new brigade.

It was thought Australian fans had seen the last of the likes of Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Will Genia but Cheika says he’s open to older players continuing.

He’s planning a trip to Europe next month to talk to players about their plans.

“I’m going to try and talk them into it,” Cheika said at the Super Rugby launch in Sydney.

“I think transition’s important, with the new players coming in and learning from those sorts of experienced players.

“I will watch a couple of games and meet all of our players over there, not just the players who were in our squad, but others who we might want to get home and I’ll be lighting a bit of a fire around them, saying, `Come back to Australia and play footy’.

Cheika said he was planning on an initial squad of 50 local players ahead of the June three-Test series against England to ensure plenty were exposed to the Wallabies’ training ethos.

“We want to grow that base of guys who can be playing and making a serious contribution and be the difference in Test matches by maybe another eight or 10 players this year,” Cheika said. After just falling short of World Cup glory with a loss in the final to New Zealand the coach said there was room for improvement.

“At the end of the day we came up short and we’ve got to get to a situation where we’re competing regularly at that level so when that opportunity comes again we don’t make the same mistakes,” he said.

“We’re not talking about winning trophies; everyone knows the things you want to do but we want to build on what we did last year.” Test flanker David Pocock is reportedly the target of a multi-million dollar deal by English club Wasps but Cheika was confident he would remain in the Wallabies’ fold.

Pocock has also flagged taking a year off on a study sabbatical which Cheika supported, saying he encouraged players to be more rounded.

But he lost the battle to keep another flanker with Liam Gill announcing this week he would leave Queensland to play in Europe at the end of the Super season.

Cheika said he was disappointed to see him go.

“I gave him a very clear indication of where I saw him and I was keen for him to be playing in Australian colours this year because he was unlucky to miss out last year,” Cheika said.

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