With all eyes on the Land of the Rising Sun, we’ve taken a look at the Waratahs on deck for Michael Cheika – keeping an eye on their progress across the campaign.
First up, it’s a clash with Fiji at the Sapporo Dome this Saturday.
The starting side is almost a replica of the one that ran out in Perth in the record defeat of New Zealand last month, with David Pocock’s inclusion at flanker the only change.
Let’s see how our boys are shaping up:
The skipper will have a huge role to play in the Wallabies RWC opener. After plenty of reports and speculation, Hooper will line up alongside David Pocock in the back row – with Isi Naisarani at no.8. It’s a potent combination for Michael Cheika, with ‘Pooper’ set to cause havoc at the breakdown.
The experienced Beale has made the fullback spot his own during the shortened home Test season, with his kicking and ball-playing ability providing support to Lealiifano. Will play a role in the front line of attack, while also taking advantage of broken play on kick returns.
After a torrid run of injuries, Dempsey made a strong return to play at Bankwest Stadium against the Samoans but won’t feature in the 23 for the first pool game.
Entering his fourth RWC, Ashley-Cooper showed throughout the Super Rugby and home Test season that he can still match it with the best and could get his chance during later pool matches.
Edging closer to his 100th cap in Wallaby gold, the experienced second rower won’t feature on Saturday with Adam Coleman and the versatile Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on the bench against Fiji.
Earns his 15th cap and starts at hooker, Latu has clearly impressed Cheika since returning to the national squad. His physicality on both sides of the ball will lay an important platform for the Wallabies to get a result against the Fijians.
Will start from the reserves alongside James Slipper, offering Michael Cheika almost 200 Tests of experience to call on throughout the game. His experience and dependability around the set piece will be crucial in the back end of this one.
Has been battling it out with Lealiifano for a starting role at flyhalf and will miss selection for the tournament opener. Despite the omission, Foley will have a role to play as the tournament progresses.
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Ten of the biggest matches from the 2019 Rugby World Cup will air LIVE and free on Network 10, WIN Network and tenplay.com.au, including every Australia match right up to and including the Final.
Saturday 21 September
Australia v Fiji
Kick-off: 1:45pm (local) 2:24pm (AEST)
Sapporo Dome, Sopporo