'Hit me like a brick': Wallabies rocked by tragedy at Rugby World Cup

Sam Goodwin
Sports Editor

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has opened up about the shock of losing former coach Jeff Sayle, who died at 77 on Monday.

The Wallabies have reportedly asked World Rugby for permission to wear black armbands for their clash against Uruguay on Saturday after the death of the Randwick legend.

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Sayle played 379 games for Randwick between 1961 and 1980, and played one Test for the Wallabies in 1967.

On Wednesday Cheika paid tribute to his former mentor.

“The news this morning hit me like brick,” Cheika wrote for rugby.com.au.

Michael Cheika at the Rugby World Cup. (Photo by Warren Little - World Rugby/World Rugby via Getty Images)

“You did more for me that I can put into words but I’m going to give it a try.

“You taught me, first and foremost, to love the game. You were always so positive about the game — you lived it, you bled it and you did a bloody good job.

“You are Grassroots Rugby Sayley. Men like you will always make it succeed. And Australian Rugby is poorer today without you mate.

“We will try to honour you by playing with that same verve for the rest of this World Cup.”

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Jeff Sayle, Michael Whitney and Geoff Lawson in 1991. (Photo by Philip Wayne Lock/Fairfax Media via Getty Images).

Wallabies deny siege mentality approach

The view from two former All Blacks that Australia's siege mentality approach to the World Cup will backfire has been rejected by the Wallabies.

In fact, inside centre Matt To'omua says such an attitude doesn't even exist despite the outspoken antics of Cheika.

A series of rulings against Australia from match officials and the judiciary have been publicly challenged by Cheika through the first two rounds of the tournament, at one point saying it felt like "us against everyone else" at the tournament.

Richard Kahui and Andy Ellis, both members of New Zealand's 2011 World Cup winning squad, believe Cheika has created a negative vibe which will permeate down to the players.

"I see Cheik and I feel for him because he's obviously a man under pressure. It's not just this World Cup, it's been building the last 2-3 years," Kahui told The Breakdown television show.

"(But) the way that he's going about talking about referees and things, I just wonder how much that influences the players.

"It creates a negative environment and it's like a snowball. It starts to build."

David Pocock and the Wallabies will wear black armbands. (Photo by Craig Mercer/MB Media/Getty Images)

Ellis believed the Wallabies had been "robbed" by some calls, particularly those made during Sunday's loss to Wales.

However, the former halfback was critical of what was clearly a Cheika tactic to circle the wagons.

"I've heard the language being used - oh. it's them against us - and I don't think that's healthy in a camp."

To'omua insisted there was no such sentiment behind the green and gold doors, and was keen to also shed any label of whingeing Wallabies.

"I wouldn't say that's the feeling within camp in the sense that we're thinking everyone is against us," he said.

"I don't think (poor officiating) has had a direct impact or effect on the result of the game which is the main thing.

"If it was a last minute thing we might have felt hard-done by but we lost on the weekend because we were the worst of the two teams."

with AAP