Article

Cheika backs Waratahs to gel

27 February 2013 08:38

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika insists he is prepared to be patient with his players as they come to grips with his new game plan.

The men from NSW have lost their last nine games, including Saturday's 25-17 defeat to the Reds at Suncorp Stadium.

Cheika's charges embraced the coach's more expansive approach against the Reds but reverted to their conservative ways in the final 20 minutes after clawing their way back to 17-all.

While disappointed with the opening-round Super Rugby loss, Cheika has named the same 22-man squad to face the Rebels on Friday and is convinced the Waratahs are heading in the right direction.

"I'm very happy with the team, they're learning a new way to play, I understand what it's going to take as far as graining a process in under pressure and this is a great opportunity for us to get another run under our belt and perform at home too," Cheika said.

"The only game that counts in the next one, if you're thinking about the one before you're lost, and we're only going forward.

"One thing is for sure is there's no lack of intent and effort in the preparation that goes into winning a game.

"Also we understand too that it's about performing in our new way of playing that's going to be the key to winning not just this game but maybe others down the track.

"Sometimes there's a bit of pain to get some gain later on ... but I believe very much in the road we're going."

Wallabies prop Benn Robinson has been recalled to the starting side to face the Rebels after coming off the bench last week, while Mitchell Chapman will start at lock for Sitaleki Timani who his battling a corked leg.

"We'll just have a look and see how he pulls up," Cheika said of Timani.

"He had a cork last week that he's just struggling to shake off, that's why he came off the field so we'll just see how he aims up tomorrow and make a call then."

Outside-centre Adam Ashley-Cooper has been named in the starting side despite suffering a neck injury against the Reds and is expected to play.

"He trained all the session which was the key for today because he hadn't trained at all up until then and he got through it really well," Cheika said.

"So barring him coming up lame tomorrow which I doubt very highly he'll be fine."

Meanwhile, Cheika is confident playmaker Berrick Barnes will be available for selection next week but the playmaker still looked severely inconvenienced by a knee injury on Wednesday.

Waratahs: 15. Israel Folau, 14. Tom Kingston, 13. Adam Ashley-Cooper, 12. Tom Carter, 11. Drew Mitchell, 10. Bernard Foley, 9. Brendan McKibbin, 8. Wycliff Palu, 7. Michael Hooper, 6. Dave Dennis (c), 5. Kane Douglas, 4. Mitchell Chapman, 3. Sekope Kepu, 2. Tatafu Polota-Nau, 1. Benn Robinson.

Reserves: 16. John Ulugia, 17. Jeremy Tilse, 18. Paddy Ryan, 19. Sitaleki Timani, 20. Lopeti Timani, 21. Matt Lucas, 22. Ben Volavola.

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