Michael Cheika knows Ireland have plenty to give in three-match series
Australia drew first blood in Brisbane.
Michael Cheika expects an improved Ireland effort as they look to bounce back from their first defeat in 13 matches in next week’s second Test against Australia in Melbourne.
The Wallabies coach was delighted with his side’s work-rate in their 18-9 win in the series opener in Brisbane, but he warned the players that a backlash is on the way in seven days’ time.
Tries from Bernard Foley and David Pocock were the difference as the home side got their 2018 campaign up and running with an excellent win over the Grand-Slam-winning tourists at Suncorp.
But Ireland will be out to make it one-all in a week’s time and, after Joe Schmidt made changes to his team for the first Test, Cheika is expecting a much-changed and much-improved Ireland effort at AAMI Park.
“They’ve got such a good squad, a lot of depth,” he said.
“If you have a look at the guys who were sitting on their bench tonight and even not in the squad, there’s a number of changes they could make and I imagine that a lot of guys could play in this series.
“They’ve got quality all across the park and that’s being genuine.
“They’re not number two in the world for nothing, they’ve won a stack of games in a row, Six Nations champions with a Grand Slam off the back of it, and you can’t do that without a lot of depth.
They've got such a good squad, a lot of depth Michael Cheika on Ireland
“Whichever player plays, every game is going to be a tight game right until the end.”
Cheika felt his team’s ability to match Ireland’s work-rate was key, but he expects a different challenge in Melbourne.
“They’ve got a huge amount of skill and talent, great players as well. But their work rate is the key, it’s the engine behind there and they worked hard tonight too,” he said.
“The Irish system is pretty good, their players are well managed and they came out here really well-drilled.
“That was a tight match, a very tight match, and we know how good they are. We know that it’s going to get harder. They’re getting over arrival, jet lag, they mixed a few of their players, they didn’t start Johnny (Sexton), they didn’t start Tadhg Furlong, Cian Healy.
“They’re going to change their look next week and we need to change our look as well because we will all have seen each other.
“That’s the best part about the three-match series concept, where it’s like we’re jousting one week and it’s on another week and we’ve got to change the tactics and keep the same dynamics in there.
“I don’t think they’ll need anything else around that, they’re very capable of lifting it a level next week.”
Ireland coach Joe Schmidt was left to rue his team’s missed opportunities.
“It’s nothing that we didn’t expect,” he said of the Australian effort.
“They’re an unbelievably athletic and talented team. The last time they played here they beat the All Blacks.
“That’s the level and we’ve got to be able to compete at that level and get the margins to fall our way, albeit they were pretty skinny today. With 14 minutes left we led 9-8 but you have got to lead after 80 minutes.”