This Man Had Two Choices. He Made The Smart One
He could have messed with a winning combo, but instead he chose to pick and stick.
Ahead of the Bledisloe Cup decider between the All Blacks and the Wallabies at Eden Park in Auckland this Saturday evening, Wallabies coach Michael Cheika must have been busting to tinker with his team line-up.
In particular, he must have been desperate to rush David Pocock -- who has been out since May with a calf injury -- back into the team.
But Cheika resisted all temptation to twiddle with those selection levers and dials like a bored TV channel surfer. He stuck firm with the team who crushed the All Blacks 47-26 last Saturday in Perth, and there are two reasons why he did this.
Firstly, if the Wallabies win again, how would he know if the Perth win was a fluke or not if he changed the team?
If they lose tonight, at least he knows he must now keep tinkering to find the right combo for the upcoming Rugby World Cup, which starts in September and will be broadcast on Network 10.
But if they win tonight with the same players? Boom! He's got his World Cup team, or a very close approximation of it. So either way, he wins.
The second reason why Cheika opted for this approach is that he did the opposite four years ago, and it backfired terribly. Looking ahead to the World Cup, he made numerous team changes heading to Auckland, and the Wallabies were duly towelled up.
He was never going to set himself up for that sort of failure again.
So for the first time in several years, the Wallabies now look to have a genuine chance of getting their hands on the Bledisloe Cup -- the prized Trans-Tasman silverware we haven't held since 2002.
Not that it'll be easy. The Wallabies haven't won at Eden Park since 1986. And get this: In the four most recent Bledisloe games at New Zealand's largest and loudest venue, the Kiwis have scored 40, 37, 41 and 50 against us.
But the Kiwis themselves look to be in disarray. This could be our time. Let's just hope Michael has Cheika'd all the right boxes.
Network 10 will broadcast the game live and free across Australia, with coverage starting at 5:00 pm in the eastern states.