Wallabies coach Michael Cheika just wants more of the same from monster centres Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani in Saturday’s crunch second Test against England.
Cheika has left his backline completely in tact for the must-win clash at AAMI Park, giving the Fijian-born ball-runners another crack at smashing through the English defensive line.
Kerevi made his international debut in the 39-28 first Test loss at Suncorp Stadium and his combination with childhood mate Kuridrani looked the goods – until winger Rob Horne’s first-half concussion forced Cheika into a midfield reshuffle, sending the pair off into different channels and disrupting what had been a promising start from Australia.
But with Cheika reverting to a 5-3 forwards-backs split on the Wallaby bench and with a little more luck, Kerevi and Kuridrani should get a better chance to show what they can do in Melbourne.
“I thought they were pretty good last week, to be honest,” Cheika said.
“If they were to attack like they did last week and create the same opportunities they did last week again this week, I’ll be pleased.
“Particularly for Samu – second game in, a bit of experience, he’ll know a little bit more.
“He had to play in the wider section for a fair bit of the game because of the injury so he’ll get an opportunity to play more in his channel and I’m sure he’ll improve because he’s that kind of guy. He’s loving the challenge and he’s learning a lot.”
Having made no changes to his backline, Cheika made four in total to his forward pack, dumping his starting props from last weekend, Greg Holmes and Scott Sio – the latter who has been left out of the squad entirely.
James Slipper and Sekope Kepu will be charged with the difficult task of taming the English scrum, which was famously outclassed by Australia’s at the World Cup last year but came back with a vengeance in Brisbane.
“I played a lot with those guys,” skipper Stephen Moore said.
“The prop space we’ve been in, guys have been fighting hard for those positions and we’ve had good competition at training.
“That’s the way Cheik’s decided to go.”
Cheika made two far more daring changes by axing experienced lock Rob Simmons for Sam Carter, while also replacing the injured David Pocock with Sean McMahon at No.8.
McMahon has limited experience in that position and will give away more than 20kg to his direct opponent, England’s Billy Vunipola, but told the crowd at the Melbourne Rebels’ Weary Dunlop Test luncheon on Friday: “Everyone seems to talk about my weight as an issue but I don’t care to be honest.”
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall.”
A Wallabies defeat on Saturday will hand England their first ever series win in Australia.