Super Rugby round five
Cheika challenges Tahs to embrace hardship
March 16, 2013
Michael Cheika barks some orders to his Waratahs side, Sydney, Australia, October 24, 2012
Michael Cheika is sure to be putting his players through stiff sessions on the training pitch © Getty Images

Michael Cheika has challenged his New South Wales Waratahs players to show some bottle and revive their flagging Super Rugby season after their 27-26 home loss to the Cheetahs on Friday night. The Waratahs have lost 11 of their past 12 matches, and Cheika accepts the team is suffering from the anxiety of years of failed campaigns. He also concedes the players may need time to embrace his ball-in-hand culture.

"That's the only fair thing to say because maybe not everyone is into the identity that we want to have," Cheika said. "But I think the majority of the guys are and we're just going to keep pushing towards that. There's disappointments along the way everywhere and surely no one is more disappointed now than me. But you've got to be strong and believe in yourself, and in the planning I have for the team I understand there's going to be hard times along the way."

Cheika refuses to give up hope of making the finals, despite his team sitting at 1-3, saying "we're going to find out" if his players have the character to revive the campaign.

The Waratahs suffered another depressing loss, against the Cheetahs (video available only in Australia)

"We've talked about it a fair bit, around the self-belief of the team after a few hard years, and that's just a battle we're going to have to get through," Cheika said. "Guys are going to have to keep reinforcing it because you can't worry about it. We're going to feel it again now and we've just got to have the resolve to say `I'm going to fight my way out of this and the team is going to become better as a consequence'. "It's part of rugby."

Skipper Dave Dennis also backed the Waratahs, saying he was unfazed about the inevitable flak heading his side's way.

"Losing hurts a lot more than what's written in the paper," Dennis said. "The boys are going to stay strong together and fight our way out of it, regardless of what's being written, or what's been said outside the group."It's a matter of everyone focusing on what we're trying to achieve as a team, and winning games of footy."


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