Wallabies coach Michael Cheika speaks ahead of his side’s Test against South Africa.
Test your Rugby World Cup knowledge. Do you remember who came fourth or fifth in world cups past?
How about, who didn’t make it out of their pool last time, perhaps? If this generation of Wallabies want to be remembered and for all the right reasons, they need to change now.
So who will run on the paddock for the Wallabies in Japan in the Rugby World Cup and what changes do the Wallabies need to make now?
After being blessed with five torrid encounters against the world’s two best teams, the Irish and the All Blacks, the key areas that need addressing are crystal clear.
The to-do list?
Line out. Ball-carrying forwards to bend the line. Phase defence. Creativity at scrum-half and fly-half. Players playing in their correct positions.
To win a RWC final the Wallabies will need players at the peak of their powers. The wider squad can have the blend of youth and experience, but the game day 23 will have no has-beens or bolters, no blow-ins, and but needs to change and change now, to be ready in time. The old will be a year older and the young will be a year wiser. So back to the to-do list.
The line out? It needs four jumpers. Enter Isi Naisarani and Jack Dempsey.
Ball carrying forwards? Ditto those two. Jed Holloway is the perfect bench-man as a ball carrying, line out jumper to cover 6, 8, 4 and 5.
Phase defence? There is nowhere to hide. It is everyone’s responsibility. Nathan Grey has a busy time ahead.
Creativity in the halves? Jake Gordon is the only running half in the country. At fly-half, there is a choice of one. Bernard Foley.
Players in their correct positions? Ponder this. Will a side with a slow 6, a non-jumping 8, a poor defender at 12, a non-attacking winger and a non-kicking fullback win the World Cup?
Lukhan Tui is lock playing blindside breakaway. David Pocock is an open side playing no. 8. Kurtley Beale is a 15 playing 12. Reece Hodge will be good but is learning 13.
Dane Haylett-Petty is a fullback playing wing. Israel Folau is indeed a non-kicking fullback. The only player that needs to learn a new role is Allan Ala’atoa, who needs to return to his less favoured side of the scrum to bolster depth at loosehead prop.
The coach will not change and he will not change his captain. But he can make him co-captain and play him for half a game.
The team to win the RWC is, therefore, Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Taniela Tupou, Tui, Adam Coleman, Dempsey, Naisarani, Michael Hooper (c), Jake Gordon, Foley (vc), Marika Koroibete, Matt Toomua, Samu Kerevi, Folau and Beale.
Reserves: Ala’alatoa, Silatolu Latu, Sekope Kepu, Jed Holloway, Pocock (c) Will Genia, Jack Maddocks and Thomas Banks.
No one will remember who came fourth or fifth in the Rugby World Cup. They will remember the finalists and which big-name country didn’t make it out of their pool.