Michael Cheika is unlikely to mollify increasingly strident critics when he names his Wallabies team to play South Africa on Saturday.
The Wallabies coach is at a crucial point in a difficult season as he prepares to unveil his side on Thursday.
After five straight losses in 2016 the pressure to achieve a win on home soil against an also-struggling Springboks outfit is great.
But so too is the need to field a team and brand of football that reassures fans that Cheika has a plan that will yield better times ahead.
Simply, the five losses have come against the two best teams in the world in most eyes, England and New Zealand.
But the dispiriting nature of performances in the most recent drubbings by the All Blacks mean the scintillating opening 20 minutes the Wallabies produced against England in the first Test of the year is a distant memory.
For better or worse, Cheika appears unlikely to make major changes for Saturday’s clash at Suncorp Stadium.
The only certain one is either Drew Mitchell (if fit) or Henry Speight in the wing spot left vacant by Adam Ashley-Cooper’s return to Europe.
In days gone by fans had nowhere other than pub and club to critique the national team, nowadays they are out in force on the internet and are far from happy this week.
Lengthy and often well-argued threads on sports discussion website The Roar have common themes:-
– too many players out of their regular position
– the unbalanced Pocock-Hooper backrow combination needs revisiting
– captain Stephen Moore is under pressure after failing to fix a problem communicating with refs he’s had all year
– Israel Folau should move to centre where he blossomed anew after a switch for the Waratahs, with Dane Haylett-Petty to fullback
– big doubt over Bernard Foley’s move to inside centre
– and for heaven’s sake sort out the lineout!
Cheika has copped a lot of heat, especially after pointing the finger at match officials following the most recent loss in Wellington.
That could be seen as a ploy to deflect pressure from his players, having already taken the blame for the previous loss to the All Blacks by saying he didn’t have his team mentally ready.
There will be no appetite for excuses on Saturday.