Australia
Gatland hails Cheika's magic touch
November 7, 2014
Michael Cheika (R) achieved success with the Waratahs in just two seasons © Getty Images
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Wales coach Warren Gatland predicts the Wallabies will be a force to be reckoned with under Michael Cheika at next year's Rugby World Cup.

In the meantime, Gatland says it's about time his team learns to "get across the line" when the nations meet in Cardiff on Saturday (Sunday morning AEDT). Not since November 2008 have Wales floored a southern hemisphere heavyweight. On that occasion it was Australia, beaten 21-18 just eight months after Wales were crowned Six Nations champions in Grand Slam fashion.

Five of nine subsequent defeats against the Wallabies have been by four points or fewer, while they twice lost by a point to South Africa during the same period.

"We are pretty aware we have been knocking on the door and put ourselves in situations - perhaps not against the All Blacks, but definitely against South Africa and Australia - on a number of occasions to win games," New Zealander Gatland said.

"We had a pretty honest debrief when we first came in to camp. We looked at the second Test in South Africa (a 31-10 loss five months ago) and hopefully the things we can learn from, make sure that learning takes place and we are a bit more clinical when we get that opportunity again, if it does arise. We have been knocking at the door, but we've got to get through it and get across the line and nail one of those victories."

George North will play outside centre for Wales against Australia. © Getty Images
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This weekend's clash is given added emphasis by the fact that Wales and Australia will lock horns during next year's Rugby World Cup in a fearsome pool that also includes highly-fancied host nation England and often-dangerous Fiji.

The Wallabies arrived in the UK with new coach Cheika and found themselves dodging the fall-out from Kurtley Beale's recent brush with Australian rugby authorities that earned the fullback a five-figure fine.

"A lot of people have been talking about what's happened with Kurtley Beale and those sort of things, and does that make them more vulnerable?" Gatland added. "With Australians, it makes them stronger. They thrive on any adversity and any criticism, and we are expecting a really tough game."

Gatland said he had a "massive respect" for Cheika, the only coach to win a European Cup and a Super Rugby title.

"What he did with (Ireland's) Leinster was incredibly impressive and what he has done with New South Wales in terms of turning them around in a pretty short time," Gatland said. "In 10 months' time, when they turn up for the World Cup, I think they will be a real outfit to contend with."

© AAP

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