Cheika keeping focused on Waratahs Semi-final

Waratahs coach Michael Cheika says that he is focused on his team’s Super Rugby Semi-final next weekend and not about players potentially leaving.

Two of Cheika’s stars – Israel Folau and Kurtley Beale have both been linked with moves to rugby league

Folau is contracted to the ARU until the end of the 2015 Rugby World Cup but was photographed with his agent Isaac Moses meeting with NRL head of football Todd Greenberg at Azure Cafe at Allianz Stadium on Wednesday.

“It was quality photography, that’s for sure,” said Cheika about his thoughts on the photograph.

Beale is believed to be in talks with the ARU over his contract and Cheika is confident that he will play for the Waratahs again next season.

“I think (Beale) has had a further chat with the (Australian Rugby Union) now, so it’s headed in the right direction,” he told Rugbyheaven.

“I’m never comfortable with any signatures until they’re on the paper, and even then you have to worry sometimes.

“I’m clear on how the negotiation (between Beale and the ARU) works, we’ve definitely had a lot more dialogue in regards to this instance than we had with (second-rower Kane Douglas)’s, so I’m leaving them to it and getting on with coaching the team.”

Cheika spoke highly of Beale who has been in terrific form and has maintained it despite the distractions of contract negotiations.

“What I’ve liked about Beale, with all this stuff going on, he’s just kept so level and is training hard and it’s not even bothered him at all, which is very good,” Cheika said.

“It shows a really good state of mind of the player and I think it’s been reflected in his performances. There’s no doubt about it.”

Folau did not train with the Waratahs on Thursday and went to gym with winger Rob Horne instead and Cheika said that there were no injury concerns over his star fullback.

“They’re all fine those guys, he and Rob Horne worked (on Wednesday), they’ll be back (Friday) and Paddy Ryan and Peter Betham will be back on Monday,” he said.

The Waratahs have a bye this week due to their placing in the final Super Rugby standings but they have to wait until the end of the second qualifier to find out who they will be hosting next week. Cheika in the meantime has been putting his players through a rigorous contact sessions.

“If we stay still we won’t win,” Cheika said.

“We have to improve our game, and you can do that. There are small improvements you can make in these next nine days that will help us be a better team on Saturday no matter who the opponent is.”

“Because whoever plays us it’s going to be really difficult.”

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