It seems as though the Irish have grown weary of being discounted when it comes to international rugby and for Wallabies Coach Michael Cheika, his recently expanded respect for the ruggers from the Emerald Isle took shape in his reluctance to insert his reserves into the fray during last week’s loss to the Irish in Dublin.
Cheika waited until the 68th minute before utilizing the services of Australian Super Rugby player of the year Sean McMahon, Allan Alaalatoa or James Slipper.
It was nearly another 10 minutes before hooker Tolu Latu came on and Quade Cooper remained unused until the last play of the game.
Cheika’s confidence in the players he once termed his “finishers” has been dealt a blow by a losing season that has seen the pressure on Cheika grow by the minute.
Nowhere has this lack of confidence been more evident than the fact that Cooper has played just four minutes off the bench in three Tests and halfback Nick Phipps did not make it on at all against the Irish squad.
The entire bench for the Wallabies, in four northern hemisphere tests have contributed only 437 minutes. By comparison, the All Blacks’ reinforcements have over 800 minutes in the same span.