Sport 'Things have never looked grimmer'

17:41  13 august  2017
17:41  13 august  2017 Source:   Wide World of Sports

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Bookmakers have the All Blacks at $1.12 to win the series while the Aussies are long shots at $6.25.© AEED KHAN/AFP/Getty Images Bookmakers have the All Blacks at $1.12 to win the series while the Aussies are long shots at $6.25. Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has said the key to Australia ending its 15-year Bledisloe Cup drought against New Zealand will be borne out of putting the indomitable All Blacks team under pressure.

Cheika fronted Sports Sunday to talk about the state of the 15-a-side game in Australia following the decision by the Australian Rugby Union on Friday to axe the Western Force out of the Super Rugby competition for 2018 in line with a SANZAAR ruling.

The Wallabies will be hoping to deliver some more positive news when they face the All Blacks for the first Bledisloe Cup match at ANZ Stadium on Sunday and Sports Sundaypanellist and former Wallaby Peter FitzSimons pleaded with Cheika to provide some hope.

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Bookmakers have the All Blacks at $1.12 to win the series while the Aussies are long shots at $6.25.

"There are grim pickings at the moment, loss to Scotland, struggled against Italy, I think 27 outings against provincial teams in New Zealand haven't got a win," FitzSimons said.

"Things have never looked grimmer going into it. Why should we believe? Give us reasons to hope."

The new-look Wallabies have been working on their fitness in recent weeks and while Cheika hinted that he could pinch a leaf out of the British and Irish Lions' playbook by looking to pressure the All Blacks with their defence.

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"You're asking me to do an Anthony Robbins?" Cheika quipped.

"No mate, one thing we've seen since the World Cup and one thing we've been doing is renovating our team.

"I've had nearly 20 new caps between that World Cup, there's probably only 12 of those players from that squad left.

"We've done a huge change within the team. There would be half of the team that had gone into last year's series that had only played single digit games against New Zealand.

"So that extra experience, we've had an excellent training camp, strong, we've trained hard, and they're getting their belief.

"I'm not in any way saying it's going to be easy, do you know what I mean?

"But at the same time I believe with the right preparation still, we've got a week to go, getting the guys into the right mindset, the target needs to be to put New Zealand under pressure, not necessarily to go out there and win.

"Then from there we'll see what happens from there. We'll see if we can take the pickings from there."

Cheika also said the timing hadn't been ideal to axe the Force in the lead-up to the Bledisloe Cup opener but his bigger concern was the fan base in Western Australia.

"The professional players, yes, they understand that they could go from one team to another.

"But the most difficult thing is for the fan base.

"Rugby has got a huge volunteer network around the country growing there in Perth obviously so that's going to be hard for them to take."

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