Cheika expects 'fervent support' for Wallabies in Perth
WITH the Western Force fighting for their Super Rugby survival, national coach Michael Cheika says the Wallabies' next Test match against the Springboks in Perth takes on extra significance.
It's been almost three weeks since the Force were informed by the Australian Rugby Union that their Super Rugby franchise had been discontinued.
Since the August 11 announcement, the Force, headed by mining magnate Andrew Forrest, have staged protest rallies in Perth, met with ARU officials in Adelaide in the hope of making a deal to ensure they're financially viable and appealed their case to the NSW Supreme Court, which is expected to deliver its verdict early next week.
But while the Force's average crowd attendance rose to 9758 in 2017, there are concerns that angry Force fans will boycott their only home Test match for the year following their side's axing from the Super Rugby competition.
Despite their future remaining in grave danger, Cheika said he was optimistic that the Wallabies would be welcomed to Perth and strongly supported at nib Stadium when they play the Springboks on September 9.
"I'd expect from Western Australia, not expect, I believe, that from the Western Australian crowd you'll get what you always get: fervent support," Cheika told Fox Sports' Kick and Chase.
"I understand the situation there totally and that's why this is a very important game for us over there.
"But I know that every time we've gone there - if I've gone there with Australia and had great support there last year and when I've gone there as an opposition team, with the Tahs - how hard it is against those supporters there and I believe that they'll be out there supporting us.
"Not just at the game, but also around Perth because their own players are there as well and I totally understand their cause."
After losing their opening two matches of the Rugby Championship to the All Blacks, the Wallabies face a resurgent Springbok side that has won five straight Tests to the start the year.
The Springboks, like the Wallabies, struggled in 2016 and coach Allister Coetzee was spared the axe despite the nation's worst ever year, which yielded just four wins from 12 internationals.
Cheika said the Springboks were benefiting from picking predominantly Super Rugby players, rather than bringing home overseas-based players plying their trade in the northern hemisphere, improving their set-piece and smart team selections.
"I think you've seen the (improvement in the) Super Rugby teams too," Cheika said.
"The Sharks came good, and the Lions made the final and the Stormers were around there (the finals).
"So I think they're starting to pick the players from home base, as opposed to from overseas, and I think that makes a huge difference.
"I think (it's) mainly around the set-piece - we'll do some preparation later this week - where you can see that they've lifted a level.
"And then of course they've got quite a strong attacking game with the majority of that Lions team making the spine there. But that's all about our defence at the end of the day."