Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says coach Michael Chieka is ignoring talk of his future ahead of their clash with the All Blacks in Auckland on Saturday.
Chieka has come under fire from Australian pundits after the loss to New Zealand in Sydney ― their fifth in six games ― and their performance this weekend could go a long way to determining his future.
Prominent Australian rugby journalist Greg Growden wrote on ESPN this week that the reaction of fans, who banged on the coach’s box to vent their frustration at the end of last week’s game, indicated it was time for Rugby Australia to sack Cheika.
‘Drastic action is required because Cheika’s Wallabies are going absolutely nowhere, sending Australian rugby into a frightening nosedive,’ Growden wrote.
‘Cheika must pay the price for a team whose appalling skill level makes a mockery of the professional footballer tag, and arrogant, holier-than-thou attitude does not warrant any respect from those sick and tired of a pedestrian outfit who constantly makes fools of themselves in the big games.’
However, Hooper says the team is focused on beating the All Blacks on Saturday and keeping their Bledisloe Cup hopes alive, rather than the speculation surrounding their coach.
‘We play for our country and that’s a huge amount of motivation. We want them to be proud of this team [and all] we’re thinking about is tomorrow night,’ Hooper said.
‘As simple and cliché as it sounds, we’re thinking about tomorrow night. I think what we’ve seen in Cheika this week is the guy wants to win. He just wants to win.
‘That’s what he’s shown this week … an absolute thirst to get this team to reach its potential. That’s what Cheika is about … and that’s what he’s exuded this week.’
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