SAINT-ETIENNE: Michael Cheika has warned the rugby world against writing the Wallabies off ahead of their do or die clash with Wales in Lyon on Monday (5am AEST).
Cheika coached Australia at two Rugby World Cups, leading them to the 2015 final and then losing to an England team guided by Eddie Jones in the 2019 quarter-finals.
The Wallabies are 1-1 in Pool C after beating Georgia and losing to Fiji.
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Another defeat against Wales at OL Stadium would almost certainly mean them missing out on the quarter-finals for the first time in their proud tournament history.
Wales (2-0) will start as slight favourites against an injury hit Wallabies side but Cheika predicted a twist in the tale.
“I’m not with Australia anymore but what I know is that it ain’t over chaps,” Argentina coach Cheika told reporters after the Pumas beat Samoa 19-10 in a bruising, scrappy pool match in Saint-Etienne.
“So be careful about ripping into people because Australia have a good team. They’ve got great players who can play footy. They’ll be stinging. On Sunday (local time) they’ll be coming out firing.
“Before we all start talking about the systemic (issues) and all that, the World Cup’s not over, there’s still plenty to go. I’d be seeing Australia have a great game on Sunday.”
Jones fronted the press in Lyon on Friday after naming Ben Donaldson at No.10 and Dave Porecki as captain.
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He was peppered with questions from Australian and British press and seemed resigned to his fate should the Wallabies lose.
Cheika believed Jones – his former Randwick teammate – retained the support of his bosses.
“I don’t think any one from Rugby Australia’s not backing the head coach. It’s outside sources not backing the head coach.
“I think the guy from Rugby Australia (chairman Hamish McLennan) seems like he’s backing the head coach. They’re in, they’re doing their thing and it’s far from over. There’s a long way for it to play out.”
Cheika said there was nothing quite like coaching at a World Cup.
“I know it’s hard and all that but they’re the best. Winner takes all footy. It’s the best feeling. It’s the most nerve wracking, but it’s also the most beautiful footy to play when everything’s on the line and sometimes it works out for you and sometimes it doesn’t.
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“There’s that excitement. You don’t want them to be easy. It’s not the experience you want if it’s easy.”
Meanwhile, Wallabies attack coach Jason Ryles said he would be “surprised” if Jones departed after the World Cup.
He is contracted through to the next tournament in Australia in 2027.
“There’s a big job ahead for the next four years with the Wallabies, which he’s started already and got some pretty good foundations down,” Ryles told reporters.
“To walk away from that would be a bit of a surprise, because there is a lot of green shoots there for the future. But I am not too sure what he will do to be honest with you. It’s good to have options, by the sounds of it (Jones has been linked with a return to Japan)…
“The criticism back home? Honestly, we are in a good bubble over here. I think Eddie has dealt with all of that, by the sound of it.”
WALLABIES (15-1): Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott, Rob Valetini, Tom Hooper, Rob Leota, Richie Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki (c), Angus Bell
Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Matt Philip, Fraser McReight, Nic White, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu
WALES (15-1): Liam Williams, Louis Rees-Zammit, George North, Nick Tompkins, Josh Adams, Dan Biggar, Gareth Davies, Taulupe Faletau, Jac Morgan (c), Aaron Wainwright, Adam Beard, Will Rowlands, Tomas Francis, Ryan Elias, Gareth Thomas
Reserves: Elliot Dee, Corey Domachowski, Henry Thomas, Dafydd Jenkins, Taine Basham, Tomos Williams, Gareth Anscombe, Rio Dyer
Referee: Wayne Barnes (England)