Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has heaped pressure on the Irish.
Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has heaped pressure on the Irish.

Cheika lobs pressure grenade at Ireland

MICHAEL Cheika has tactically pressured the Irish by rating them "the best team in their history" after barely strapping on the gloves verbally against Eddie Jones two years ago.

The Wallabies boss is up for every part of this fight at Suncorp Stadium on Saturday night because he name-checked Ireland's fill-in five-eighth even before he was officially selected.

The Irish pulled a shock by naming Auckland-born Joey Carbery at five-eighth for his 11th Test while resting playmaking trump Johnny Sexton for an entry from the bench.

Jones had a field day in the media against Cheika with tactical, left-field and even crazy barbs en route to the 3-0 series success that rocked the Wallabies and their coach in 2016.

Cheika was happy for everyone to know that the Irish, ranked No.2 in the world, should be favourites and feel the weight of expectation in the southern hemisphere for a change.

"It's the best team that Ireland have had in their history ... they've got out-and-out gun players and a consistency in the way they play," Cheika said of the Six Nations champions.

"They believe they are coming here to win 3-0, no doubt about it, from what I've read and seen."

The Irish are either favourites with local sports bookies or listed as joint favourites at Ladbrokes for a mouth-watering clash that will draw a 42,000-plus crowd.

Sexton is a marvellous goalkicker and director of play but coach Joe Schmidt has decided to freshen him up a little because it is only two weeks since his draining European Cup triumph with Leinster.

Michael Hooper gets Ireland’s starting five-eighth Joey Carbery on skates in 2016.
Michael Hooper gets Ireland’s starting five-eighth Joey Carbery on skates in 2016.

Now Cheika has flattered the Irish with how good the Irish are, he is privately relishing the idea of beating them.

"We've done a lot of cramming in our six days together to deliver some things to get them out of their 'consistent' game," Cheika said.

A big start to the season is all-important to the Wallabies who wavered between being All Black-slayers and conceding 53 points to Scotland at the end of 2017.

"We have had some great moments and others we want to improve so a big theme has been consistency," Cheika said.

The Wallabies were caned by 15 penalty goals from the boot of England sniper Owen Farrell in the three-Test 2016 series and a sharp improvement in discipline has been drummed in.

"We scored some great tries in that series but that (ill discipline) is what probably hurt us the most," Cheika said.

"He (Farrell) kicked a million penalty goals and he can only kick them if we give away a million so we are really trying hard to reduce those chances."

Michael Cheika is wary of the Irish line-up.
Michael Cheika is wary of the Irish line-up.

Cheika politely suggested Aussie fans didn't even know some of the major threats in green at Suncorp Stadium.

"Mate, they have great players and great new ones like Carbery, who has a real skillset, (Robbie) Henshaw and the new lock James Ryan," Cheika said.

"You (fans) don't even know them here."

Meanwhile, Cheila has come to the defence of Samu Kerevi, saying he has beat himself up for too long about his defensive shocker against the All Blacks last year and he's ready for everything the Irish want to throw at him.

Being hooked at half-time when the Kiwis romped to a 40-6 lead in Sydney grew into a season-long story about defensive frailties at outside centre when few factored in the backdrop.

It was his first match for 11 weeks and Kerevi's scratchy game rhythm, defensive spacing and fitness were all exposed by a pacy All Blacks blitz.

Selection against Ireland is his first time back at outside centre since after some thumping progress as a Wallaby inside centre to end last year.

"Others said it (about his defence) so it was in his head (too much)," Cheika said.

"He's been outstanding this season and I trust him because I haven't picked a back-up No.13 have I?"

Cheika believes in Samu Kerevi’s defensive abilities.
Cheika believes in Samu Kerevi’s defensive abilities.

Samu's delight was obvious.

"Cheik's right. I read too much into it, not just from journos, but myself through games when I wasn't as confident to make a hit when I should have,' Samu said.

"I changed my mindset this pre-season and knowing I'm fitter, more confident and have done all the work has made a big difference."

Yelling "Samu" on-field is going to give the Wallabies a double-pronged spike in energy after humorous training moments with new Wallabies backrower Pete Samu.

"It was funny, we both looked around when the name was called (in plays) at training," Samu said.

"I'm the original so I'm trying to get 'Pistol' going as his nickname.

"He didn't think he'd be back in Australia (from his Kiwi base at the Crusaders). It's funny how the world works, he's an exciting player and very grateful for this chance."

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