Cheika insists he is not feeling the pressure

10:49 AM GMT

MELBOURNE — If Michael Cheika is feeling the pressure he isn’t showing it.

But for an exchange around a potentially controversial pre-match meeting with referee Craig Joubert, the Wallabies coach was his usual affable self as he fronted the media following Friday’s captain’s run.

Yet the reality is that the man who’s almost single-handedly dragged Australian rugby up from the pits of obscurity, first with the Waratahs and now the Wallabies, is staring down the barrel of a series loss on home soil.

And if England defeat Australia on Saturday night in Melbourne not only will the series be gone, but the visitors will also likely move above the Wallabies on the world rankings.

“Oh no, not really, mate,” Cheika said when asked if he’d felt any added pressure this week.

“I’ve said it many times before, there’s no need to feel pressure in this game because there’s really serious things going on out there and obviously we want to win, we’re not naïve of that.

“But more importantly is we want to play our best like we always want to do; we want to make Australia proud by the way we play the game – all round, not just the good bits.

Michael Cheika David Rogers/Getty Images

“We’ve got the physical part, the accuracy of our play … our kicking; all that stuff. And then we’re fully committed to the game and everyone enjoys us playing that way, and that’s what we want to do. So we get a great chance down here in front of our home crowd in Melbourne — a great opportunity for us.”

While the Wallabies did many things right in their 39-28 loss in Brisbane, they did earn the ire of referee Romain Poite. The Frenchman’s breakdown and scrum interpretation eventually saw the Wallabies finish on the end of a 15-8 penalty count, before the likes of Bob Dwyer and Phil Kearns weighed in on what they deemed ‘illegal’ scrummaging tactics from England tighthead Dan Cole.

On field in Brisbane, Wallabies flanker David Pocock — who has been ruled out of the remainder of the series with a fractured eye socket — had a series of conversations with Poite over his refereeing of the breakdown.

Joubert may view both the breakdown and scrum in a different light — as is often the case between northern and southern hemisphere referees — but Cheika was adamant the Wallabies had identified their issues from Brisbane and focus on their own play rather than the official’s whistle.

The Wallabies come together at the captain’s run in Melbourne. David Rogers/Getty Images

“Oh mate I don’t think there’s any clearing up [of referee interpretations] from our end, we saw where we went wrong,” he said.

“So we know what we need to fix; we aren’t looking for anything like that and we’ve got to clear our own things up first before we start worrying about that.

“You don’t want to be in the situation not to even give penalties away, not even leave those things to interpretation. So once we do that it won’t be an issue for us.”

Meanwhile, the Wallabies have opted for a five-three split on the bench for Saturday night’s Test. James Horwill, Liam Gill and Wycliff Palu have all dropped off the extended bench.

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