Wallabies cop hit at training
RUGBY: Michael Cheika's Wallabies have copped another classic Scottish rugby stitch-up by being barred from their boggy training field in Edinburgh and being offered a sloping B-grade hockey field as a replacement.
The sham forced on the Wallabies under grey skies in the bleak Scottish capital was pulled just 90 minutes before the team was to start their most important and physically intense session of the week to prepare for Sunday's Test at Murrayfield.
The cancellation by the groundsman at the University of Edinburgh's Peffermill grounds came after initial advice that the Wallabies would be able to go full-bore to train away the disappointment and dodgy try calls that dogged their losing day at Twickenham last weekend.
Instead, the Wallabies were forced to make do with a limited training run on artificial grass and restricted scrum and ruck drill work on the field's narrow in-goal areas.
The in-goals were so limited, forwards with bigger turning circles like Rob Simmons. Lukhan Tui and Lopeti Timani found themselves turning in the winter leaves and trees beyond the dead-ball line. It's believed the field was being protected for a university game 24 hours later.
A justifiably frustrated Cheika jumped on the phone while his team took a break for lunch but the only alternatives offered were a sloping perimeter hockey field that made Lord's Cricket Ground, with its 2.5m drop, look completely flat and an outside field at Murrayfield.
While the Murrayfield option was a quality field, running through a full raft of match moves and defensive alignments under the noses of the Scottish Rugby Union was politely declined.
Drizzling rain all week is expected to clear for the kick-off early on Sunday (EDT) when crisp six degree daytime temperatures are forecast.
Supersub Karmichael Hunt indicated it was better to train under grey skies rather than the perfect weather of London last week.
"The week leading up to the England game was just sunny so we got put into a false sense of security leading up to the Test," Hunt said wryly.
Michael Cheika was again less-than impressed.
"Then, we turned up on game day and it's bucketing down," he said.
"If we train with a wet ball this week, hopefully it will be sunny at the weekend and it will make all our passes stick."
With forwards Adam Coleman (thumb) and Ned Hanigan (knee) having flown home injured, the opening is there for Test rookie Tui, 21, to come straight into the starting pack after missing the three Tests of the tour to date with a hamstring issue.
Tui could slot into lock for Blake Enever to create a starting backrow spot for hardhead Ben McCalman or play No.6 himself in a pack that would retain Enever.