Michael Cheika admits he felt like crying after the Wallabies’ first Test defeat to England, but says taking the hard road will help build “substance” within the team.
Objecting firmly to Eddie Jones’s suggestion that Australia will be “desperate” in Saturday’s second Test at AAMI Park in Melbourne – a match they must win to keep the Cook Cup series alive – a philosophical Cheika said he actually enjoyed having his back to the wall and wanted his players to feel the same way.
“Desperate – why, because we lost the first game?” Cheika said.
“Losing’s part of life sometimes, that’s the way it is. You can’t have a gold pathway all the way through and everything’s happy and rosy and everyone’s singing a song together.
“Sometimes it’s tough, you’ve got to be in a scrap and that’s when you get the most character built. That’s what we need.
“We’ve got to build our team up (in) all the different things – depth, character, skill, all the things we want to over a certain amount of years, keep building it, so we can be consistent, so we’ve got something of substance.”
The Wallabies certainly face a challenge in the form of this English side and their wily coach Jones, who clearly won the tactical battle against Cheika last weekend and is continuing his attempts to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the Australians.
Some of Cheika’s selection changes, including his re-jigged front row and decision to switch back to a five-three split on the bench, read as concessions that he got some things wrong in the series opener in Brisbane.
“We weren’t good enough last week, clear and simple,” Cheika said.
“Me, personally, I love being in this situation. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but you’re one down, you’re in a scrap and I want my players to enjoy that too.
“That’s what Aussies are like. We never want to take a backwards step.
“I’m looking forward to Saturday immensely, but I’m certainly not desperate.”