Michael Cheika said he would prefer to lose the Australian way, with ball in hand, than win by playing a more conservative game after the Wallabies crashed out of the World Cup quarter-finals against England on Saturday.
The Australia coach said it was too early to decide on his future, lambasting reporters for their insensitivity in asking the question, and was equally defiant when asked if he had been tactically outwitted by England coach Eddie Jones.
“We could have played better without a doubt, you always can,” he said after the 40-16 loss at Oita Stadium. “But listen, that’s the way we play footy, I’m not going to go to a kick-and-defend game. Call me naive but that’s not what I’m going to do.
“I’d rather win it our way or no way. That’s the way Aussies want us to play.”
Australia reached the final four years ago in England and Cheika had previously said he would only stay on after this tournament if the Wallabies improved on that in Japan by winning a third World Cup. His feelings may be moot, given his contract expires at the end of the year, but he was certainly not prepared to share his thoughts on Saturday.
“Mate, I’ll be honest, it’s a cruel, cruel world when you ask those questions two minutes after you’ve been knocked out of the World Cup,” he said. “And if you find it inside you to have a little bit of compassion for people who are hurting, just ask more relevant questions.
“I came here with only one thought in my mind about winning and that thought’s just disappeared now. Not 15 or 20 minutes ago. When the time comes, I’ll tell it. Sweet?”
Cheika said two interceptions in the match, combined with one at a crucial stage of the pool loss to Wales, had been costly. Saturday's match, he argued, had come down to one or two key moments, most notably when Australia were camped in front of the England posts around the hour mark but came away without any points.
“I thought they played very well,” he said of England. “While the score was a bit large towards the end, it is a game of fine margins, a couple of intercepts, but we had our opportunity when we took the scrum down under the goalposts. That was the time to score. They were deserved winners and they’ll be a handful going forward in the tournament.”