Cheika defends Wallabies selection merry-go-round

Marika Koroibete at the Wallabies' captain's run at GIO Stadium.
Marika Koroibete at the Wallabies' captain's run at GIO Stadium. Mark Nolan

YOUTH and speed are the hallmarks of Michael Cheika's Wallabies team to face Argentina on Saturday night in Canberra.

Cheika has largely kept faith with his side that drew 23-all with the Springboks last week, making just one change to his starting XV, with veteran lock Rob Simmons replacing Rory Arnold, who drops out of the 23-man squad altogether.

Arnold's axing continues Cheika's chopping and changing in the second row, as the Wallabies coach demands consistency from his players.

"I don't think there's anything wrong with that," Cheika said. "We see where our future is and right now in 2017 we're looking for players to fight for those spots for the future.

"Consistency's king.

"We've had good positions in both the last two games (a loss and a draw), we've had good leads and we haven't been able to be consistent in our play right throughout the game, and I want to make sure that every player knows that consistency's important.

"Rory played at an excellent standard in the Dunedin game (a loss to the All Blacks), he needs to maintain that standard all the time."

There are two new faces on the bench with ex-NRL star Marika Koroibete in line to make his Wallabies debut, replacing another former league winger, Curtis Rona, on the bench.

Young lock Izack Rodda, who made his debut during the Wallabies' heartbreaking loss in Dunedin last month, also returns to the bench.

After going on last year's spring tour as a development player following his move from the NRL, speedy Rebels winger Koroibete is set to become Wallaby No.913 and the 10th debutant of 2017.

Cheika said he didn't want to rush Koroibete into the international game and urged the Fiji-born flyer to back his instincts, rather than worry about a lack of kicking prowess.

"He's been probably frustrated that he hasn't had a chance yet because he's a real competitor," Cheika said.


Wallabies coach Michael Cheika at press conference.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika at press conference. DAVID MOIR

"I think he's going to really excel in the game when he gets an opportunity.

"I'm sure that he can kick, but I don't really want him to kick.

"I want him to get the ball and take someone on - that's where he's so good, is in those areas.

"There will be times when he has to, he'll be back covering, (but) with the system we play he won't end up there much.

"He'll be fine, as long as he's got a clear instruction.

"You've got to go with players' strengths and he has got some serious ability when carrying the ball into the opposition."

The Wallabies are still searching for their first win of the Rugby Championship after back-to-back losses to the All Blacks, before last week's draw.

Argentina is also winless but last weekend led New Zealand 16-15 at half-time, before being overrun in the last quarter of the match to lose 39-22.

Cheika anticipated that Argentina would attack the Wallabies hard at the breakdown, after the Springboks found considerable success in that area last weekend.

"They're going to go hard on the ball on the ground," Cheika said.

"They've picked the two opensides, moved (last week's No.8 Benjamin) Macome out, and I think they'll go hard at the ruck.

"They'll see that maybe in the first half last week that wasn't a strong area of ours, I think we improved it in the second half.

"I think they'll try to take us there and I think they'll do what they've done before.

"They'll move the ball around, try and take us in the middle first, through the ruck and in those tight areas with (halfback Martin) Landajo probing.

"I noticed they picked him ahead of (Tomas) Cubelli, so he'll probe and try and get us sucked in there and then they'll try and shift us out wide."

Topics:  michael cheika pumas rugby championship wallabies

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