Michael Cheika gets off to close winning start
MICHAEL Cheika has begun his reign as Wallaby coach with a win, Australia hanging on to beat the Barbarians 40-36 in an entertaining game at Twickenham.
The win was not as important as the opportunity to take a first-hand look at the players he will build his World Cup plans around, an exercise that will continue through the Wallabies' four-Test European Tour which continues against Wales in Cardiff this weekend.
One of those who did his chances no harm was young Melbourne Rebels back-rower Sean McMahon (pictured), who marked his debut with a try.
Cheika said the game plan he used to win the Super Rugby title with the Waratahs would not be a blueprint for the Wallabies.
"We've got to build a unique style and embrace the characters in the team that will suit us," he said after his maiden win.
"Our defence is probably the part of our game I want to improve the most.
"It's a new system so you'll have that slight hesitation, but hopefully we're a bit more aggressive next week."
Another player Cheika would love to see in the green-and-gold, former Western Force winger Nick Cummins, was one of the best for the Barbarians. He has a two-year contract in Japan which would rule him out of World Cup contention.
"I would love to be back in the mix," grinned Cummins.
"But I've signed two years with Japan. I am a man of my word."