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Wallabies begin Championship preparations

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 25/07/2016 Adrian Warren

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika is set enjoy one advantage over newly re-signed All Blacks counterpart Steve Hansen, with most of his players already assembling in Sydney to prepare for the Rugby Championship.

That gives him four weeks before Australia start their defence of the four-nation tournament's title on August 20 in a Sydney clash with world champions New Zealand that doubles as the first Bledisloe Cup Test of the year.

It follows a disappointing Super Rugby tournament for the Australian teams which ended on Saturday when national conference winner the Brumbies were eliminated in the quarter-finals.

Cheika's Brumbies players including national skipper Stephen Moore and the likes of Scott Fardy, David Pocock, Scott Sio and Tevita Kuridrani have been given one week off before joining the squad next Monday.

If Australia's lack of Super Rugby success has one benefit for Cheika it has allowed him to spend more time with players than some of his overseas counterparts, especially Hansen, who on Monday re-signed through to the 2019 World Cup.

The Kiwis still have three teams alive going into this weekend's semi-finals and South Africa one.

If New Zealand provides both finalists for the season decider the following weekend, Hansen won't have access to a potentially significant amount of players until less than two weeks before the Test in Sydney.

Cheika is set to recall a handful of overseas based stars who weren't used in the recent three-Test series sweep by England.

Among them are backs Adam Ashley-Cooper, Drew Mitchell, Matt Giteau and Will Genia.

Five-eighth Quade Cooper could also come in to contention once he signs of on a new contract with the Australian Rugby Union.

Cooper has reached a heads of agreement with the ARU for the next three years, but has still to decide which Super franchise to play for.

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