Mortlock: Cheika the right man for Wallabies

Stirling Mortlock believes Michael Cheika is the right man to lead Australia and is encouraged by the early signs as the Wallabies go through a transitional period.

Cheika's future as head coach was called into question in certain quarters after they suffered six consecutive defeats before ending that barren spell with a Rugby Championship win over South Africa in September.

Critics circled on Cheika and his players as they slumped to an historic series whitewash to England on home soil in June before suffering emphatic back-to-back defeats against world champions New Zealand.

They were able to claim three victories to finish second behind the All Blacks in the Rugby Championship and have started their tour of the northern hemisphere with contrasting triumphs over Wales and Scotland.

Cheika signed a new contract until 2019 in May and former Australia captain Mortlock feels the 49-year-old is doing an effective job of integrating new players just over a year after guiding the Wallabies to the World Cup final.

Mortlock told Omnisport: "There is no doubt in my mind Cheik is the right man for the job. He's created a great team culture in a short period of time amongst the crew.

"The backbone of what they do is bring a huge amount of effort, desire and pride in the jersey. I don't think that was ever questioned from the Rugby Championship or the England series.

"He's blooded a lot of players this year, brought in a huge amount of talent. They lost some stalwarts in between last year and halfway through this year, so I think he's doing quite well.

"I think this tour was one that the guys were looking forward to in order to keep improving the team culture, their understanding, game awareness and everything they are trying to do.

"To me it looks like they are doing that, so I certainly think he's the right man for the job and has the full support and respect of all the team. It looks like they are really enjoying themselves."

Australia needed a late converted try from Tevita Kuridrani to beat Scotland 23-22 at Murrayfield on Saturday and Mortlock felt the ability to come out on top despite not being at their best bodes well.

He said: "You're never always going to play at your peak, but you really want to have strong endeavour and belief. They found a way to win with 10 minutes to go when they had one man [Will Skelton] in the bin and down by six points.

"Considering this is not an old side either, a lot of teams in that situation would have lost their way. But they dug in, stayed on task and ground out a victory which is a real positive sign from my perspective.

"When you're not totally on song but you manage to find a way to win, that is a quality that good teams have."

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