Cheika laughs off 'All Blacks' name ban

Michael Cheika (Gallo)
Michael Cheika (Gallo)

London - Australia coach Michael Cheika has laughed off claims the Wallabies are refusing to utter the phrase "All Blacks" ahead of Saturday's Rugby World Cup final.

With both countries taunting each other and trading light-hearted insults in the lead-up to the final at Twickenham on Halloween, New Zealand media have suggested the Australian coach has banned the use of 'All Blacks' for superstitious reasons.

At one of the last Australian team press conferences ahead of the final, Cheika was asked by New Zealand reporters whether he could say the words, prompting the 48-year-old to launch into a comical routine.

"Can I say All Blacks now for you? Right, OK," he said - before grasping his throat and gurgling like he'd seen a ghost. "Poltergeist!"

Cheika said he had already read about the conspiracy theories on why he preferred to call Australia's opponents New Zealand but said there was a simple explanation.

"Everybody's got a little bit too much time on their hands because that's like making something out of nothing," he said.

"But it's pretty funny because if you notice, I never call Australia the Wallabies either. I'm a bit old fashioned that way.

"Australia is Australia, New Zealand is New Zealand and France is France. So there's no secret squirrel."

Cheika was just as dismissive when asked whether the Wallabies were physically intimidated by the All Blacks, who will go into the final as slight favourites after winning the last World Cup.

In the four years since, Australia have beaten New Zealand just once in 11 matches, although that one win came less than three months ago, and Cheika said the Wallabies did not fear anyone.

"That's part of the game," he said. "You fire up yourself, but it's a lot of bravado and when the when the whistle blows you get into it.

"I've played in teams that have been lower on the table and maybe haven't been expected to beat bigger teams or the other teams had lots of players. But I've never felt worried about it. It's just you go out there and you do your best and you see what happens."

With both teams only training lightly this week to keep themselves fresh for the final, Cheika has been working more on his team's mental preparation, ensuring his players don't get overawed by the occasion.

His mantra throughout the whole tournament has been to take it one day at a time and treat ever match the same even though there was no escaping the fact the teams were playing for the biggest prize in rugby.

"There's a different feeling obviously because it's the World Cup but internally we're just doing what we're trying to do, to be as prepared as possible every day, prepare certain things and just keep adding the next day's things together to be ready to play our best on Saturday," he said.

"If I start thinking 'oh this is a massive game' and start doing things differently then I'm not looking after my team properly. I just want to make sure they're very well prepared, the best they can, then they'll have the chance to put everything we've done out on the field."

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