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Sticky midfield choice for Wallabies

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    24 Aug 2016     Getty Images

New Zealand lost Ryan Crotty to a head knock in the first game in Sydney while Australia lost Matt Giteau, Matt Toomua and Rob Horne to injuries.

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Australia coach Michael Cheika joked with media on Tuesday that he was considering retiring the No 12 jersey.

"It's not been a good one so far in this series but there's a few options," he said.

That boils down to his choice of opting for ball-carrying players or playmakers.

That would see Samu Kerevi and Tevita Kuridrani named in the carrying role or possibly Quade Cooper or Reece Hodge in the playmaking option.

"Quade's obviously been there or thereabouts in training. Reece Hodge has also put his hand up quite well at training over the last few weeks.

"It would be a big call for him but he looks like he's up for it too. I think if we go right back to the very start about attitude and who wants to make it right and we'll go through the selections from there," he said.
Cooper doesn't have a lot of experience at second five-eighths but Cheika didn't discount him playing there.

"Quade's someone I'd consider in the team at 10 or 12 or fullback, depending on what our situation requires.

"We're going to have to do something there that's a little bit different whether it's structure in our play or set up in our personnel," he said.

Cheika has also defended his players recalled from Europe from criticism of their performance in last weekend's thrashing at the hands of the All Blacks in Sydney.

"Any of the criticism about our game and how we play is fully warranted 100 percent, there's no issue around that.

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"I thought Will Genia was one of the players who did stand up in that game – Giteau played for about a minute or two so that's a convenient thing for people to say and look for a reason.

"The reality is that the Australian team didn't play well that day and since I've been there, win or loss, we've always been pretty true to our identity and that's the first time I don't think that we have and we've got to make that right," he said.

Cheika added that the challenge for Australia on Saturday was probably the biggest they have faced. The players were feeling terrible about their performance and it was a case of getting the players into a position to do better this weekend.

"We're going to fight and get ourselves sorted out. That may be enough, it may not be. But that's what we're definitely going to do this weekend," he said.