August 27, 2018 / 1:57 AM / in 2 months

Rugby-Perseverance will see Wallabies turn corner, says Cheika

MELBOURNE, Aug 27 (Reuters) - Under-pressure Australia coach Michael Cheika has dismissed calls for major changes to the Wallabies set-up after back-to-back thrashings by the All Blacks but said he needs to build more squad depth through the rest of the Rugby Championship.

Belted 38-13 in the opener in Sydney and 40-12 in Auckland on Saturday, the Wallabies have come under fire after conceding the Bledisloe Cup with a match to spare.

The trans-Tasman trophy, won back by the All Blacks in 2003, will remain in New Zealand hands for at least another 12 months.

“A few little tweaks but perseverance definitely (is what we need). It’s not always instant gratification,” Cheika told local media in Sydney.

“In the modern world, I know that’s what everybody wants.

“Sometimes you’ve got to use these ones, the harder times, as watershed moments to make some changes in a certain direction because they were hard games to lose but we’ve been here before and we’ve bounced back and will again.”

Australia will have two weeks to lick their wounds before facing South Africa in Brisbane on Sept. 8.

They will hope attacking weapon Israel Folau is fit enough to return after the fullback rolled his ankle in the Sydney opener. Injured tighthead prop Taniela Tupou may also be available to reinforce the front row.

Cheika has blooded over 30 test debutants since the Wallabies’ run to the final of the 2015 World Cup and suggested he would need to do more tinkering in the leadup to next year’s global showpiece in Japan.

“We’ve done a lot of work in building the team, building the depth of the team,” he said.

“We’re going to continue to build that going forward, like we have in all the Rugby Championships.

“I think in ‘16 and ‘17 we lost both games first up and we’ve come back to finish well in those championships and that’s what we want to be targeting.”

Rugby writers on both sides of the Tasman sea have called on Cheika to quit or be fired in the wake of the Bledisloe failure but a string of Wallabies players have backed the 51-year-old as the best man for the job.

Cheika lashed out at reporters who questioned his job security during the post-match media conference at Eden Park but he was more measured upon his return home.

“I’m my own harshest critic,” he said. “None of the questions that I get asked about that stuff are ever going to affect me or hurt me in that way.”

Reporting by Ian Ransom; Editing by Peter Rutherford

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