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Straight-talking Cheika puts 'reunited' Tahs through paces

Tough love … Tahs coach Michael Cheika.

Tough love … Tahs coach Michael Cheika. Photo: Brendan Esposito

MICHAEL CHEIKA had one concern after the Waratahs finished training in Monday's scorching heat: how his voice would last a full season.

There is a long season ahead for the hands-on, no-frills, tough-as-teak NSW coach, who will not mince his words when he puts his charges through their paces.

The players who have trained with him throughout the off-season have already learned that. Those on the Waratahs' roster who were in the touring Wallabies squad were reminded of his style when they rejoined the Tahs for training after their off-season break on Monday a week ahead of schedule.

And if anyone still doubted Cheika's penchant for a traditional straight-in-your-face approach to coaching, they would have been quickly reassured as he stood centre to the Tahs who formed a huddle - after a training session that was scheduled to be 90 minutes ended closer to the two-hour mark - and bellowed with the passion of Spartacus: ''This is where it is at. If you want them to be worried about you, it starts here.''

Of course, other less savoury words were used, but you get the drift - as did many an onlooker on Monday as the word spread: the Tahs are back.

Whether they are really ''back'' - as in, to their best - only time will tell, but if Cheika can't rev up the historically underperforming Waratahs, who can?

Cheika appeared convinced that his non-Wallabies squad have returned from the Christmas break with the sharp mental edge he had left them with. ''The team has come back with a good level of the intensity,'' he said. ''We were a bit scrappy on a few things … but now we are bringing back some of the contact elements. You just have to shake up the memories a little. There has been no hangover from the Christmas pudding, put it that way.''

For those on his books who were touring Wallabies and who showed their eagerness to give up a week of their annual leave to impress him and defend their positions as incumbents in the Waratahs side, Cheika had something special in store as a welcome-back present: hill repeats. Not that those Wallabies - including Berrick Barnes, new recruit Michael Hooper, Drew Mitchell and Benn Robinson - complained as they trotted off.

Cheika must now focus on merging his Wallabies and non-Wallabies, which he hopes to do by the third of their three Super Rugby trial games.

''The [Wallabies] have obviously got credit because they are returning internationals. The other guys have to win the spots,'' Cheika said.

''[But] the opportunities will come for this group of players when they play the first couple of trial matches. The trial matches will probably be more like grand finals for some guys.

''Then we will merge the other guys back in, maybe for the last trial. The opportunity will be given for players to put their hand up and say, 'I really want to be competitive for this spot'.''

Twitter- @rupertguinness

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Rugby Internationals 2014

Round 1
Sat, 07 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 18 vs TGA 18 Report Stats
FJI 25 vs ITA 14 Report Stats
NZL 20 vs ENG 15 Report Stats
AUS 50 vs FRA 23 Report Stats
Sun, 08 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 47 vs WXV 13 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 29 Report Stats
USA 6 vs SCO 24 Report Stats
CAN 25 vs JPN 34 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 2
Sat, 14 JunTimes shown AEST
SAM 15 vs ITA Report Stats
FJI 45 vs TGA 17 Report Stats
NZL 28 vs ENG 27 Report Stats
AUS 6 vs FRA Report Stats
Sun, 15 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 38 vs WAL 16 Report Stats
CAN 17 vs SCO 19 Report Stats
ARG 17 vs IRE 23 Report Stats
USA 29 vs JPN 37 Report Stats
View All Fixtures
Round 3
Sat, 21 JunTimes shown AEST
ARG 19 vs SCO 21 Report Stats
FJI 13 vs SAM 18 Report Stats
JPN 26 vs ITA 23 Report Stats
AUS 39 vs FRA 13 Stats
NZL 36 vs ENG 13 Report Stats
Sun, 22 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 31 vs WAL 30 Report Stats
USA 38 vs CAN 35 Report Stats
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Round 4
Sun, 29 JunTimes shown AEST
RSA 55 vs SCO 6 Report Stats
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Round 5
Sun, 02 NovTimes shown AEDT
BAR 36 vs AUS 40 Report Stats
USA 6 vs NZL 74 Report Stats
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Round 6
Sun, 09 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 24 vs SAM 13 Report Stats
ENG 21 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
WAL 28 vs AUS 33 Report Stats
FRA 40 vs FJI 14 Report Stats
IRE 29 vs RSA 15 Report Stats
SCO 41 vs ARG 31 Report Stats
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Round 7
Sun, 16 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 18 vs ARG 20 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs RSA 31 Report Stats
WAL 17 vs FJI 13 Report Stats
SCO 16 vs NZL 24 Report Stats
FRA 29 vs AUS 26 Report Stats
Mon, 17 NovTimes shown AEDT
IRE 49 vs GEO 7 Report Stats
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Round 8
Sun, 23 NovTimes shown AEDT
ITA 6 vs RSA 22 Report Stats
SCO 37 vs TGA 12 Report Stats
IRE 26 vs AUS 23 Report Stats
WAL 16 vs NZL 34 Report Stats
ENG 28 vs SAM 9 Report Stats
FRA 13 vs ARG 18 Report Stats
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Round 9
Sun, 30 NovTimes shown AEDT
ENG 26 vs AUS 17 Report Stats
WAL 12 vs RSA 6 Report Stats
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