Wallabies happy to fly under the radar ahead of World Cup
THE All Blacks and Springboks have already arrived in London to heroes' welcomes ahead of the World Cup, but Wallabies coach Michael Cheika says he is happy his team has been able to go quietly about its business at a training camp in the USA.
With Australia's first game against Fiji not scheduled until September 23, Cheika opted to keep the team out of the spotlight for as long as possible.
"It's been good. We've been able to work with a minimum of fuss," the coach told Fox Sports. "There's been a few interested spectators, but rugby's not centre stage over here so it's been easy for the guys to work and not have any of the distractions that normally accompany the build-up to a World Cup."
South Africa, on the other hand, has already arrived in London, captain Jean de Villiers saying while the rugby was the main objective, it was important the players enjoyed themselves.
"The rugby is obviously the main thing, but it's also important to enjoy this special tournament - it only comes around once every four years," he said.
"We'll be seeing parts of England we've never been to and the players are very excited to experience new things and new places."
De Villiers also apologised to all the South African fans who turned up to Heathrow Airport, only to miss out seeing the players.
"We are aware there were a lot of supporters waiting for us - unfortunately the organisers took us via an alternative exit to avert the queues at customs and we did not get to see them," he said.
Meanwhile, the All Blacks said their decision not to play a warm-up game after August 15, and get to England early, had been the right one.
"We are fresh," No.8 Kieran Read said. "As a group, a lot of us are itching to get back on the park. It's been a good month, really, between games. Our bodies are in really good nick. We've worked hard together as a group and now we want to put it out on the field."
Other teams did take the opportunity to play some late warm-up games, not always with ideal outcomes.
Wales, drawn in the same pool as Australia, England and Fiji, had a game against Italy last week with disastrous results.
The Welsh lost halfback Rhys Webb (ankle) and star fullback and goalkicker Leigh Halfpenny (knee) for the tournament. Fiji, which opens the tournament against England on Thursday night, also decided to have a warm-up match and would have taken plenty of confidence out of a 47-18 demolition of Canada.
- APN SPORTS BUREAU