Ireland will test Australia's progress – Cheika
Australia coach Michael Cheika says next month’s three-match Test series against Ireland will provide an idea of how much progress his side has made.
Cheika has blooded 20 new players in Tests since Australia finished runners-up at the 2015 World Cup and the coach is eager to assess their development.
The Wallabies were swept aside 3-0 by England in a similar series in 2016.
“We faced Grand Slam champions then and with Grand Slam champions coming now I think it is a good gauge,” said Cheika.
“How we’ve been changing the team around, and where we are now.”
Ireland completed their Six Nations Grand Slam in March, just as England did two years ago, and the former Leinster coach is expecting Joe Schmidt’s squad to provide formidable opposition.
“It’s going to be tough, but we’re looking forward to putting ourselves up against a contrasting style of play.
“They are obviously very well coached, they’ve got a clear and coherent plan they want to deliver and they deliver that plan every week.
“That’s what’s got them to number two in the world and it’s a place that we’ll be looking to cut them down from when they come over here.”
Australia beat Wales in Cardiff in the November autumn Tests but then lost to both Scotland and England.
Cheika says his team are focussing on playing Australia’s traditional brand of running rugby, reducing their penalty count and raising their work rate in the three Tests in Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.
He is confident injured scrum-half Will Genia will be ready to feature even if he does not manage to play in a Super Rugby match beforehand and that winger Taqele Naiyaravoro is under consideration despite committing to Northampton for next year.