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Cheika aware of Sopoaga's ability

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    20 Oct 2017     Getty Images

Barrett has returned home due to lingering concussion symptoms and Lima Sopoaga has taken his place at first five-eighths.

But Cheika is well aware of Sopoaga's abilities.

"I've had the chance to coach him, albeit in a different environment in the Barbarians [in 2015], so I know the quality he brings in the game.



"I think he'll be a different proposition to Barrett but no less dangerous," he said.

"You saw what Sopoaga did in the game [against South Africa], in the back half when it was on the line. He managed it well," he said.

It's 15 years since the Australians last had their hands on the Bledisloe Cup and while it is secure for another year, Cheika has issued the challenge to his side to show they can beat the All Blacks.

"It's not like we're all best friends hanging around, there's a lot of intensity when this encounter comes. They've got long-standing bragging rights," he said.

"It's up to us to say, to show we're going to be competitive every single time we go out there and make the games battles that both teams remember.

"And then what happens from that results-wise will happen by the quality of our play.

"We're going to need to improve on everything that we've done. We have improved this season but it's all for nothing [if that doesn't continue]. We've got to improve again to think about competing with this team.

"It's one of the best teams that's ever run out to play rugby over the last 10-15 years and to compete with that we've got to show our improvement and show our teeth as well," he said.

In making his selections for the Test he said that Karmichael Hunt had not been considered due to the lack of rugby he had played in recent months and the step up to Bledisloe Cup level would have been too much to ask.

"I think Karmichael has got a game and a half under his belt now, but I think to go with this pace, he probably needs another game or two just to get him up," he said.

Cheika also revealed that a changed approach towards lock Rob Simmons had helped the player adjust his own method.

"I may have been telling him the wrong thing before to get him going and I think I've adjusted my dialogue with him to try and get him thinking about how he can impact the game in a different way, and get him to be himself more and his best self on the field.

"I think we've more out of him but for a guy with his experience I still think he's got a heap more to give to be honest," he said.