George Smith, an experienced Wallaby has tipped current Rugby Champions Australia and Fiji to advance from the pool of death, leaving behind the hosts England and Wales. Pool A, which has two-time World Cup winners Australia, England, Wales, Fiji, and Uruguay, is obviously the toughest in this year’s tournament. But contrary to most bookmakers’ predictions, the veteran Australian flanker with 111-test caps believes that one of the big three teams – England, Wales and Australia will take an early exit from the tournament.
Smith told walesonline.co.uk that he has heard that the Welsh and English teams have been by training well and the Wallabies won the championship but he thinks that Fiji will go through to the quarter-finals with Australia. He based his prediction on the great performance of some of their top players in the French league while he was with Lyon last season. Smith feels that any team that underrates Fiji will pay for it.
Fiji will be led by coach John McKee, the New Zealander who was a professional rugby player in Australia, and served as an assistant coach of the Australia’s youth rugby team in 2013. According to Smith’s assessment, McKee is very good at bringing players together and managing them so they are happy to play together as a team. McKee’s side beat Samoa during the Pacific Nations Cup and the recently named squad has great players like wingers Asaeli Tikoirotuma (Chiefs) and Nemani Nadolo (Crusaders) and Ben Volavola, the former Waratah fly half.
In some of the exciting matches to be played in the group of death, Fiji and England will play the group opener on September 18 in London, Wales and Uruguay will play in Cardiff on September 20 while Australia will play their first match against Fiji on September 23. Rugby fans have a chance to buy their tickets at competitive prices online via Ticketbis, a renowned sports ticketing company.
Meanwhile, Australian coach Michael Cheika has named the 31-man squad for the tournament. Australia’s world cup team has multiple combinations for the forward positions at No. 9 and No. 10. Michael Hooper and David Pocock, the two main back-row forwards, have the power to fire up the pace of a match in the twinkle of an eye. The scrum and the line-out also performed extremely when Australia won the Rugby Championship.
Australia’s new squad was unveiled at Qantas Hangar at the Sydney Airport with a couple of surprises. Michael Cheika’s choice of just two hookers and five props in his squad of 14 backs and 17 forwards is a bit strange since he has several other wing options such as Rob Horne, Joe Tomane, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Henry Speight, and Kurtley Beale who can also cover as a utility back. Cheika also pulled another surprise by including the two uncapped players, Toby Smith and the flanker Sean McMahon, who play for the Melbourne Rebels, but have not featured for the Wallabies in 2015.
Australia’s final list of forwards includes: Dean Mumm, Toby Smith, Kane Douglas, Sean McMahon, Wycliff Palu, Ben McCalman, Will Skelton, Scott Sio, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Stephen Moore (captain), Greg Holmes, Sekope Kepu, James Slipper, Rob Simmons, Michael Hooper, Scot Fardy and David Pocock. The backs that made the team are: Joe Tomane, Henry Speight, Rob Horne, Nick Phipps, Will Genia, Kurtley Beale, Matt Toomua, Quade Cooper, Bernard Foley, Matt Giteau, Tevita Kuridrani, Drew Mitchell, Adam Ashley-Cooper and Israel Folau.
Australia has won the last two World Cup finals hosted in the U.K. So hopefully, the players will use the past record as a motivation to win the 2015 World Cup.