Gregan called in to inspire Wallabies

Chasing a historic third Rugby World Cup triumph and the world No.1 ranking, nothing short of lifting the Webb Ellis Cup will satisfy Wallabies coach Michael Cheika.

Cheika on Thursday brought out the big guns, with Wallabies legend George Gregan called in to deliver an inspirational speech.

Gregan, who led Australia to the 2003 World Cup final and the country’s most-capped player with 139 Tests, conducted the team’s jersey presentation ahead of their World Cup final clash with New Zealand at Twickenham on Saturday (Sunday 0300 AEDT).

With no more-experienced Wallaby, and no Australian who has played more World Cup games than Gregan’s 20, there is none better to deliver home truths ahead of a showdown which could be Australia’s greatest rugby triumph.

Victory over the heavily favoured All Blacks would not only deliver Australia a record third World Cup, it would also elevate them to the world’s top ranking for the first time.

New Zealand, who have held top spot since November 16 2009, have a slim 1.92 point advantage over the Wallabies – who could gain a near-three-point bump with victory by 15 points or less, and more than five points with any victory greater than that.

Cheika revealed the players had been receiving inspirational messages from back home as well, which they’ve been encouraged to embrace – with one caveat, because Cheika doesn’t want his team to settle for second best on Saturday afternoon.

“You get a lot of messages like ‘no matter what happens, we’re proud of you’,” Cheika said.

“Which is fantastic but, like I have said to the blokes, we don’t want to be here and be proud just to have made the final.

“That’s not the idea, so we are trying to keep that perspective. Don’t get distracted with all of that.

“It’s good, because part of our goal is to get our supporters back into it. We are happy about that.

“But the message is not to be contented with being happy.”

Gregan was an almighty All Blacks tormentor during his 14-year international career, and is equally as famous for his “four more years” sledge at New Zealand No.9 Justin Marshall during their 2003 semi-final boilover as for his incredible try-saving and Bledisloe Cup-saving tackle in 1994 on Jeff Wilson.

Cheika asked him to speak to the players on Thursday and drill home the importance of the occasion.

“George made some points to the guys about the emotions and the feelings and what he thought,” Cheika said.

“If you’re going to take advice from someone, you may as well take advice from someone who’s been there, done that.

“George is not always the nice commentator you all see on the TV all the time.

“That player’s got edge. And I want them to hear from players like that.”

The impact was felt on returning loosehead prop Scott Sio, who has recovered sufficiently from a dislocated elbow to reclaim his place in the starting line-up.

“These sort of big occasions call for the big guns and Cheika brought him in,” Sio said.

“Just to hear how passionate he is about the jersey and how passionate he is about us representing Australia and what’s most important to us when we’re out there, it was just huge for us.

“I know a lot of the boys will take what they can from that and run with it on the weekend.”

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