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Why ‘perfect’ build-up is giving Michael Cheika headaches

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Cheika said the effort given by every player at the pre-tournament camp in Noumea and again this week in Odawara had set up a vexed selection meeting on Tuesday.

“There’s a lot of competition for places in the team so far and I think that’s the way it’s going to stay, to be honest over the next seven weeks,” Cheika said in Odawara.

“That’s going to elevate the level of each player because I know everyone wants to play.

“You can just see it in the way guys are training, everyone wants to be a part of it.”

Despite Cheika’s comments, the majority of players employed in both Bledisloe Cup Tests against New Zealand last month will fancy their chances.

The most contention surrounds the right wing, both halves and the loose forwards – now that David Pocock is fit again.

Dilemma: One of the major choices facing Cheika is whether or not to start David Pocock.

Dilemma: One of the major choices facing Cheika is whether or not to start David Pocock.Credit:Getty Images

A disjointed display against Samoa last Saturday drew criticism from former Wallabies skipper Stirling Mortlock, who lamented a predictable performance on attack.

Cheika bristled, pointing out the game fell three days after returning from the gruelling Noumea fitness camp.

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“I didn’t see his comments but I don’t agree, to be honest,” Cheika said.

“I thought that we attacked pretty good, made a few mistakes off the back of a couple of weeks of hard training. Each to their own.

“What happens on the field is where the talking is done. We get our chance to talk on Saturday.”

Cheika said the Odawara camp had been “perfect” as a Japanese location out of the spotlight to mix hard work with relaxation.

He had noticed a lift in excitement from his players, who will travel to Sapporo on Wednesday.

AAP

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