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Rugby Championship: Michael Cheika highlights toll of social media on Wallabies players

Sporting News logo Sporting News 11/10/2018
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Wallabies coach Michael Cheika believes his players are buying into social media backlash and their confidence has been shattered across their challenging Rugby Championship campaign.

Australia currently sit seventh in the world rankings after winning just three of nine Tests in 2018 and were almost humiliated against Argentina albeit an astonishing second-half comeback that salvaged some pride.

Cheika insists his players have carried the burden of online abuse onto the playing field and are struggling to cope with the criticism that has been laid upon them.

“I’m not really up on social media or media, I don’t really read a lot of it, but players do, you know, they read all that stuff,” Cheika told the Fox Rugby Podcast.

“It gets in their head and it hasn’t been going great and so they don’t think they’re great and then as soon as something happens in the game, negative, which it did early on, you start to get a bit narrow in your view and you start to fear failing — as opposed to going out there to do what you need to do to perform. And then as a consequence, win.”

The under-siege Wallabies coach unloaded an epic half-time spray with his men trailing 31-7 at the break and his words of fire triggered a response, inspiring a 38-3 second-half comeback.

Demoralised and desperate, Cheika described a playing group without answers.

“I would say a lot of thoughts were going through their head — a lack of confidence, a lack of belief.

“There was no technical information.

''When you do lose confidence or you get blocked, it stops you from doing what you know.

“Your automatic system takes over and you get very narrow.

“What they had to do is understand that this is personal, let’s do what we know how to do and do it as best we can and see what happens.

“I know there’s been a lot of arrows and bullets flying but I’m connected to them.

“I know they’ve been struggling and it’s up to me to get them up and get them going again and that’s going to be on the agenda when we get to Japan.”

Ending their Rugby Championship on a high with a 45-34 win over Argentina, the Wallabies will be looking to build momentum for next year's World Cup with upcoming Tests against Wales, Italy and England.

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