The Qantas Wallabies have a lot of work to do to capture a third Rugby World Cup crown.
The Rugby World Cup tournament begins this weekend in Britain. Australia features in Pool A, dubbed the pool of death. The Qantas Wallabies are the favourites to win their group stage, which includes England, Fiji, Wales and Uruguay. These teams are all ranked in the top 20 world placings.
Fiji, the new Pacific Champions, who are ranked ninth, will meet Australia in the opening round.
The Wallabies have been through three coaches since the last World Cup in 2011. Head coach Michael Cheika is confident in his 31-man squad.
“We’re not organising a tournament, we just go and play. We’ve known who the opponents are for the last how many years so it’s no surprise. What it does do is give you a different lead into the tournament from that of other teams,” Cheika told The Guardian on Tuesday.
The two-time Rugby World Cup winners will head into the first round feeling confident, buoyed by their victory in the Southern-Hemisphere Rugby Championship this year – their first win since 2011. But Cheika knows it will not be easy.
“Teams in our pool will have a totally different lead-in and pathway through the tournament because there is no one feeling comfortable in our group and that’s the way it should be,” he said.
“It’s a World Cup and it’s going to be tough every game. We are going to have to earn everything we get and that’s definitely something we want to do. We don’t want anyone to give us anything.”
Australia’s first match against Fiji is scheduled for Wednesday, September 23. – Ellen Conroy
Top photo from David Molloy’s Flickr stream.