Australia mentally ready for New Zealand clash, says Cheika

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Australia have resilience and mental strength to defeat the All Blacks in the Rugby World Cup final, says Wallabies head coach Michael Cheika.

Australia mentally ready for New Zealand clash, says Cheika

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LONDON, ENGLAND, UNITED KINGDOM (OCTOBER 30, 2015) (REUTERS – FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY)

1. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIA HEAD COACH, MICHAEL CHEIKA, SAYING:

“And also (it is about) resilience, not just fitness – resilience for the contact. We know it is going to be extremely physical and we want to be able to last that (80 minutes). I believe we have prepared accordingly; once the 80 minutes starts, not only will your preparations take a hold but a lot of the reasons that are driving you, mentally, I think that takes over the physical part and you only feel the physical parts later.”

2. WHITE FLASH

3. (SOUNDBITE) (English) AUSTRALIA HEAD COACH, MICHAEL CHEIKA, SAYING:

“So, it’s been one of our goals as a team has been to get our supporters in Australia enjoying the game again, and that is really important to us. That is genuine, that isn’t marketing – I am not from the marketing department – that is from rugby players to other rugby players and the supporters that play the game in Australia. And that doesn’t always mean just the good bits too. Sometimes it is the hard times, and whatever goes on in the game. But just to feel like they are attached to the team, because we show them the values that they want to be attached to with the Australian rugby team. So, that has been positive for us, really positive, and we want to give them more to be proud of on Saturday night.”

STORY: As Australia prepares for it’s biggest rugby match in 12 years, the team appeared relaxed as they trained at Twickenham stadium on Friday (October 30), the day before their Rugby World Cup final clash with New Zealand.

The players, as well as head coach Michael Cheika, laughed and joked on the pitch, and their spirits were further lifted when they trained to their unofficial tournament anthem; AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck”.

Despite the comfortable atmosphere around the Australian camp this week, Cheika believes, come game day on Saturday (October 31), his players will have the mental strength to over-turn the heavily favoured All Blacks.

New Zealand have only lost three games since winning the 2011 tournament on home soil, including once against the Wallabies in Sydney, but Cheika believes his side could have the edge in terms of resilience and physicality.

“It is also about resilience, not just fitness – resilience for the contact. We know it is going to be extremely physical and we want to be able to last that (80 minutes),” Cheika told reporters at a news conference at Twickenham on Friday.

“I believe we have prepared accordingly; once the 80 minutes starts, not only will your preparations take a hold but a lot of the reasons that are driving you, mentally, I think takes over the physical part and you only feel the physical parts later.”

Australia were in disarray when Cheika took over in November 2014, the team ranked sixth in the world and seemingly with little drive or direction.

However, Cheika has quickly instilled a great team spirit and camaraderie in the camp and the Wallabies have won over the support of their famously vocal and passionate fans.

For Cheika, this connection with the Australian public has been crucial in his side’s rejuvenation in the past year, where they won the Rugby Championship and have gone unbeaten at this world cup.

“One of our goals as a team has been to get our supporters in Australia enjoying the game again, and that is really important to us. That is genuine, that isn’t marketing – I am not from the marketing department – that is from rugby players to other rugby players and the supporters that play the game in Australia,” he said.

“And that doesn’t always mean the good bits too. Sometimes it is the hard times, and whatever goes on in the game. But just to feel like they are attached to the team, because we show them the values that they want to be attached to with the Australian rugby team.”

“So, that has been positive for us, really positive, and we want to give them more to be proud of on Saturday night,” concluded Cheika.

Cheika has injected youth into his side, but they will be coming up against a vastly more experienced New Zealand when the sides meet on Saturday.

Seven of the New Zealand players played in the victorious 2011 final and, for many, this match is seen as the culmination of many great All Black careers as several high profile stars will be retiring after the final.

Flyhalf Dan Carter, centres Conrad Smith and Ma’a Nonu, hooker Kevin Mealamu and – although he still hasn’t confirmed it – talismanic skipper Richie McCaw are all set to call time on their illustrious international careers after the game.

Australia will face New Zealand for the first time ever in a world cup final at Twickenham on Saturday, with kickoff at 1600GMT.

Tags : Cheika, says, clash, Zealand, ready, Mentally, australia

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