Cheika hails Australia’s hunger to win

Date published: October 4 2015

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Michael Cheika spoke about Australia's determination to win at Twickenham after their resounding victory over England.

England, as a result, are out of the Rugby World Cup, with Australia now favourites to top Pool A ahead of their game with Wales next weekend.

"We really wanted it. Really wanted to play well, we were really hungry," Cheika revealed.

"We knew there would be a lot of pain being in England's backyard, and the atmosphere was outrageously loud, and that's not an easy thing to deal with when you're in the minority like that.

"We just wanted to get stuck in and that's what we did from the start. We managed the darker period in the second half a lot better than we have in the past and got back into it towards the end."

Australia's scrum won the overall battle against England's eight, with Cheika saying how much work had gone into making the Wallabies more competitive in such a crucial area of the game.

"We've been working hard on it. Like I said before, Mario [Ledesma, Wallabies scrum coach] has taught me that the scrum is a very humbling part of the game because you can dominate one and then get your pants pulled down in the next one if you're not on top of your game," Cheika explained.

"You have to be consistent and yeah it went well tonight, but we have to do that again next week and again after that. You've seen the improvements from teams who supposedly haven't got great scrums, how they've focused on that and we'll have to be ready for that part of the game against Wales."

The only downer for the Wallabies on the night was early loss of Rob Horne, whose diagnosis is yet to be confirmed after a knock to his shoulder, while Israel Folau "wasn't moving well" and was removed as a precaution. 

Otherwise, the Australia boss rightly had plenty to smile about.

"Obviously we're very pleased. All of you asked many questions in the lead-up and we've tried to give truthful answers about how we're preparing and feeling, and I think we brought that preparation to the field," he said.

"It wasn't perfect, there's still areas we can improve on and it's just another step in the pool, but it's a very difficult pool. We're pleased with the result but also the commitment of the players, which was very good and we'll be asking for more of that going forward.

"We've still got so much to and we're coming up against the master coach next week [Wales boss Warren Gatland] who knows how to move things around. It's just about improving each day – I'm not going to change my tune just because we won a game."

Cheika added that Ben Youngs' quotes from earlier in the week about "blowing Australia away" early on had served as inspiration.

He added: "One of the English players said they wanted to come and hit us hard in the first 20 minutes, so we had to be ready for it and come back with some to try and negate it.

"Being good at the basics was important early on and perhaps we could have capitalised a bit more, because we have to take those opportunities, but we stuck at it to get a score."

Cheika was especially pleased with the way fly-half Bernard Foley managed the game, ending with 28 points to his name.

"What we're asking of Bernard and Quade is to take control of the game, especially in tough moments, and they're both growing in that regard," Cheika said.

"I know Bernard got the points but also in the way he stepped up to take responsibility, he's been working really hard on that by working on it with Quade. It's helped having Matt Giteau and Matt Toomua to also help, but it's up to them to stand up and quarterback the team and tonight he did that quite well.

Australia's gain of course means that England now face a rough few weeks assessing the future as a team, with Cheika sympathising with his counterpart, for now, Stuart Lancaster.

"Our goal isn't to put Lancaster in a difficult position, it's to win games to get through a difficult pool. I don't wish that on him – I've been there and it's hard, you feel like you want to do more.

"He seems like a really genuine guy and proud of what he does and I'm sure he'll bounce back. We just wanted to get four points and that's it."

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