Cheika hits back at selection critics

Date published: August 10 2016

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 05:  Wallabies Coach, Michael Cheika speaks to the media during an Australian Wallabies media opportunity at Weigall Sports Ground on August 5, 2016 in Sydney, Australia.  (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has hit back at critics for selecting veterans Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell for the Rugby Championship.

Cheika says it’d be foolish not to have a succession plan in place despite recalling of veteran trio Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Drew Mitchell.

The selection of the France-based 30-something World Cup finalists for the Rugby Championship has raised eyebrows in some rugby circles.

However, Cheika says he and his fellow selectors have thought long and hard to find the balance between picking a team to challenge for Bledisloe Cup and Rugby Championship glory and blooding Australia’s generation next.

“There’s been a bit of talk about why we’re bringing in some of these guys back. I’ve seen some of it out there,” Cheika told Fox Sports’ Rugby 360.

“But it’s the national team. It’d naive to think we didn’t have a plan around transition in the background as well.

“Otherwise we wouldn’t be doing what we’re here to do, which is not only look after the short-term performance but also build something and some legacy for the long term as well.

“And we are doing that.”

Cheika says the experience his uncapped players particularly will gain from being in camp and battle the Giteau, Ashley-Cooper and Mitchell – all stalwarts of three Rugby World Cup campaigns – will be priceless for Australian rugby.

“Training next to those guys and getting some game time with them – guys who have 100 caps etc – and how to handle big-game pressure and decision making, then that’s invaluable,” he said.

“That’s the way I learnt as a young fella coming through. I think that’s the way most players learn – from the guys alongside them – and that’s the way these guys will learn as well.”

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