‘We don’t want to be proud just to make the final’

Michael Cheika laughed off claims he has deliberately avoided saying the ‘All Blacks’

Australia’s Adam Ashley Cooper, Scott Fardy, Scott Sio, Israel Folau and Michael Hooper after the press conference. Photograph: Henry Browne/Reuters

Australia’s Adam Ashley Cooper, Scott Fardy, Scott Sio, Israel Folau and Michael Hooper after the press conference. Photograph: Henry Browne/Reuters

 

Michael Cheika insists Australia have ignored messages of goodwill hailing their passage into the World Cup final as they refuse to target anything other than lifting the sport’s ultimate prize.

The Wallabies clash with New Zealand in an all-Trans Tasman showpiece at Twickenham on Saturday, with the winners being crowned champions for an unprecedented third time.

Cheika, who has made one change to the side that dispatched Argentina after prop Scott Sio recovered from an elbow injury, has revived Australian fortunes after inheriting a dysfunctional squad beset by disciplinary problems only a year ago.

But despite the progress made over the last 12 months, Cheika views second place as failure.

“We’ve had a lot of messages from a lot of people about how proud they are and everything like that,” Cheika said.

“But I’ll be honest — a lot of it we don’t want to let in because we don’t want to be proud just to make the final. That’s too comfortable, that’s too easy.

“We want to be proud of what we do on Saturday and make Australians even more proud of us, by giving everything we’ve got on Saturday.

“Obviously you can never guarantee what’s going to happen, but by making sure we play in a way that they wake up in the middle of the night or if they’re over here, they can nod their head and say ‘I’m proud to be a part of that team’.”

Cheika laughed off claims in the New Zealand press that, along with his players, he has deliberately avoided using the name ‘All Blacks’ when referring to Saturday’s foes in order to demystify them.

“I’ve read a bit about that. People have had bit of a crack at me thinking that I don’t say that for a certain reason,” Cheika said.

“But it’s pretty funny because if you notice, I never call Australia the Wallabies either. I’m really a bit old-fashioned in that way. It’s a battle between nations on this stage. There’s no secret squirrel.

“Can I say All Blacks now for you? Right. Okay (makes strangled noises, hands round his throat) Poltergeist!

“No mate... maybe everybody’s got a little bit too much time on their hands because that’s making something out of nothing.”

Wing and vice-captain Adam Ashley-Cooper will be playing his 114th international on Saturday and recalls a quarter-final defeat by England eight years ago that until this day provides motivation to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.

“I remember turning up to France and feeling the atmosphere of a World Cup and how exciting and inspirational it was. I was playing with some heroes of mine. We had a great team that I was in awe of,” Ashley-Cooper said.

“The likes of George Gregan, Stephen Larkham, Stirling Mortlock, Matt Giteau — who’s still here now — and many others were playing.

“We played really well throughout the pool stages and I’m not too sure how we approached that quarter-final, but maybe we expected it was going to happen.

“England rolled us, 12-10, and we didn’t turn up. They were the much better team on the day and it was over like that.

“We went from the best experience of my life to being severely depressed and disappointed and suffering heartache.

“I didn’t really want to think about the game for a while after that, it took me a long time to recover.

“Ever since then, I’ve always wanted success in a World Cup. Now I’ve got an opportunity on the weekend to feel and taste that success.”

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
GO BACK
Error Image
The account details entered are not currently associated with an Irish Times subscription. Please subscribe to sign in to comment.
Comment Sign In

Forgot password?
The Irish Times Logo
Thank you
You should receive instructions for resetting your password. When you have reset your password, you can Sign In.
The Irish Times Logo
Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.
Screen Name Selection

Hello

Please choose a screen name. This name will appear beside any comments you post. Your screen name should follow the standards set out in our community standards.

The Irish Times Logo
Commenting on The Irish Times has changed. To comment you must now be an Irish Times subscriber.
SUBSCRIBE
Forgot Password
Please enter your email address so we can send you a link to reset your password.

Sign In

Your Comments
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Standards. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or by filling out this form. New comments are only accepted for 3 days from the date of publication.