Cheika unfazed by selection ‘risk’

Date published: August 21 2015

Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika isn't overly concerned about taking only two hookers and two scrum-halves to the World Cup.

Australia captain Stephen Moore and Tatafu Polota-Nau are the two hookers named in Australia's 31-man squad, while Matt Giteau is expected to cover at scrum-half behind Nick Phipps and Will Genia.

Cheika acknowledged that an injury in either of those positions would stretch the squad somewhat but felt confident enough in the cover available to make the call.

"I suppose you could always say there is a bit of a risk," Cheika said.

"We feel we've got enough back-up that can cover in the short-team situation and we feel we've got excellent cover outside of the squad with both (hooker) James Hanson and Nic White in case we do get an injury."

Cheika also added that despite the Wallabies chopping and changing their side frequently during the Rugby Championship, a long-term selection plan had always been in place since last November.

"Because we have been changing players around, there is a bit of a thought that we don't know who should be in the team," Cheika said.

"But I can assure you that we have been working off a plan that we have had since we came back from the November tour and I'm sticking to that plan.

"It's been something that is working for us. We have improved in our depth and in a lot of the areas that we needed to improve on.

"We have still got improvement to make and we have still got time to make that improvement."

Of course finalising the squad meant some tough phone calls, with scrum-half White and James Horwill, Australia's captain at the last World Cup, being the biggest casualties.

Cheika explained his decision regarding Horwill and admitted that it had been a "tough" phone call.

"He really played himself into contention," said Cheika.

"Maybe he was a bit further away at the start of the Rugby Championship but the balance of the team that we wanted required just the two line-out orientated locks and we have that.

"What it (Horwill's omission) allowed me to do was have two teams that we can train accordingly and turn around according to the draw for the first part of the tournament.

"I felt that was the right balance for what we are going to do."