Cheika in for battle on and off the field
MICHAEL Cheika's resolve continues to be tested as he prepares to make his debut as Wallabies coach against the Barbarians in a non-cap international at Twickenham on Saturday.
His coaching staff and members of his Super Rugby 15 champion Waratahs side have already had to deflect suggestions of selection bias and favouritism which come with a state coach holding the reins of the national side.
There's was also talk that if injuries come into play, Cheika may send an SOS to Kurtley Beale to join the five-week European tour after having his code of conduct charge dealt with late last week when he was five $45,000 but cleared to play if needed.
The Wallaby players copped a grilling when they touched down in London and obviously Beale and former coach Ewen McKenzie were the hot topic, along with former ARU staff member Di Patston, who has revealed the texting drama left her not only physically ill and emotionally distraught but also contemplating suicide.
Cheika will have to get used to critics and others taking pot shots like those who've already suggested Australian teams will be loaded with NSW players who have served him well.
Those claims were predictable give he has nine Waratah players in his squad and his assistant, Nathan Gray, is his right-hand man with NSW.
But one of the first things Cheika did when appointed McKenzie's successor was to push for the coaches of other state sides to be involved in his northern hemisphere tour.
Gray said Cheika would do what was best for Australia not the Waratahs.
"We're pulling things from the Brumbies, we're pulling things from the Reds, were pulling strengths from what the Force are doing and what the Rebels are doing," he said.
"We're a collective representation of Australia and our game is going to reflect that,"
NSW halfback Nick Phipps also dismissed claims he had an advantage over the likes of out-of-favour No.9 Will Genia.
Gray hinted that while Beale had not been part of the Wallabies European Tour plans, that could change if the side ran into injury dramas.