Cheika wants players to toughen up

Wallaby coach Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)
Wallaby coach Michael Cheika (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - Wallabies boss Michael Cheika feels Australian Super Rugby players must learn how to be more mentally resilient if they are going to beat the New Zealand teams in future.

Cheika was interviewed on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Offsiders program on Sunday and admitted that 2016 was a "poor season" for Australian Super Rugby franchises.

This after Australia's last team in the competition, the Brumbies, were knocked out by the Highlanders in their quarter-final clash on Friday.

Cheika tried to explain the reason for the poor performances by the Australian teams and said overcoming mental hurdles is more important than making up a perceived gap in skill levels for his country's players.

"I'm a big believer that one of the big progressions for us here is more around our mental skills," he explained. 

"Yes, our footy skills are important but we've shown that we have football skills. It's about bringing those really good rugby skills out every day, every week when we play in the spotlight of the game when the crowd's there and not having the fear of failure. 

"Being really free to play the game that you know how to play and just enjoying that and not worrying too much about the result, because it will come. 

"A big area that all our teams need to grow in is in that mental resilience. It's not always going to go well for you, so wear that and bounce back the next week." 

The Australian franchise's poor Super Rugby form and the country's recent 3-0 series defeat to England makes the Wallabies underdogs for the upcoming Rugby Championship which starts next month.

With the Rugby Championship starting early next month, Cheika is determined for the Wallabies to win back the Bledisloe Cup from the All Blacks for the first time since 2002. 

"We need to win the Bledisloe Cup so people can feel happy about that and feel good about themselves," he added. 

"What I've realised is that when the country wakes up the next morning you're pretty much deciding how they're feeling. In my own house it's my own kids, dressed in their gold jerseys, and that's going to be reflected in many households across the country.

"We just have to focus on the first game in Sydney so we can make sure that we're doing our supporters proud." 

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