Eagles match no World Cup audition for Wallabies hopefuls

Cheika has rested a number of key players to allow the fringe members of his squad a chance to build match fitness but the 48-year-old is not viewing the clash at Soldier Field as a another round of World Cup auditions.


“We have had a plan from a while back as to what we think we are going to be doing (against Fiji),” Cheika told Australian media in Chicago.

“Anything could happen but we are pretty comfortable with the plan we’ve got and what that first team looks like and our reasons for playing certain players in this game.

“Is there a player playing for his position? No.

“There is no guarantee that your plan is going to work but we definitely have one, contrary to popular opinion, and we are following it pretty much to the letter so far.”

Australia won the abridged Rugby Championship with three successive wins, including a rare victory over the All Blacks in Sydney, but were brought down to earth by the world champions in their last match at Eden Park, a 41-13 trouncing.

Preparations for their tilt at a third Webb Ellis Cup have since been low-key, with the training camp at Notre Dame university handing the players some relief from the spotlight since their farewell from Sydney a week ago.

Cheika has rested captain and hooker Stephen Moore and regular flankers David Pocock and Michael Hooper, with prop James Slipper to take the reins of a second-string side that should still comprehensively outclass the Eagles.

The most intriguing selection sits on the bench, however, in the form of scrumhalf Will Genia, who has played only half a game this season and injured his knee against South Africa in the Wallabies’ Rugby Championship opener.

Genia is likely to relieve starting scrumhalf Nick Phipps and a solid performance by the pint-sized Queensland Red would reignite the debate about the Wallabies’ best halfback combination.

The Chris Wyles-captained Eagles expect a better scoreline than the 74-6 drubbing they received from the All Blacks at the same venue last year, having had a long training bloc to build cohesion.

They suffered a big blow with the loss of Stade Francais flanker Scott LaValla earlier this week, however, with the experienced forward ruled out of the match and the World Cup due to a fractured elbow.

(Reporting by Ian Ransom in Melbourne; Editing by Greg Stutchbury)