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Can Australia Win the 2019 World Cup?

From Brian Ashfield.
May 2017.



Source: Qantas Wallabies via Facebook


Australia found only the All Blacks too strong at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, losing 34-17 to their bitter rivals at Twickenham Stadium. In 2019, the Wallabies have the opportunity to redeem that defeat and head coach Michael Cheika will be quietly confident of leading Australia to the latter stages of the competition at the very least.

For now, the Aussies will have to be content with knowing just two of their opponents in the group stages in Japan. Australia will go up against Warren Gatland's Wales and European minnows Georgia, as well as facing one nation from Oceania and another from the Americas. On paper, the Wallabies should cruise to the top of Pool D, although Wales will also fancy their chances of finishing on top.

Pipping Wales to top spot in the group could turn out to be very important, Eddie Jones' high-flying England are likely to meet the runner-up in the quarter final stages. Barring a major England collapse in Pool C, the 2003 World Cup winners will go up against either Wales or Australia in the first knockout round - and both nations will want to avoid the current Six Nations champions.

But Australia won't be scared. When it comes to the southern hemisphere, Cheika's men are still the second best team in the business and the Wallabies will be full of confidence ahead of the trip to Japan. In June, Australia will face Fiji, Scotland and Italy - all three games will take place on home soil. Cheika will expect his side to find their best form ahead of the double header with New Zealand in the Rugby Championship.

Australia won this competition back in 2015 but the All Blacks will take some beating this time around despite the colossal distraction of a British and Irish Lions tour earlier in the summer. Should Australia get the better of New Zealand, South Africa and the improving Argentina once again, the Wallabies will gain plenty of confidence as preparations ahead of the Tokyo World Cup start to ramp up.

At the time of writing, odds on bet365 show that Australia are 11/2 to win the World Cup and Cheika will already have one eye on union's ultimate international competition. In terms of young talent coming through the ranks, the Wallabies aren't blessed with quality like New Zealand or England but they do have a decent pool of starlets and the Australia coach will do his best to offer as much international experience as possible.

According to the official rugby world rankings, Australia are the third best team on the planet - behind Jones' side and the All Blacks. The next year is all about building momentum ahead of what could be a memorable tournament for Australian supporters. Victory in the Rugby Championship would certainly go down well with Wallabies fans but the ultimate prize is the World Cup. New Zealand and England will take some beating but topping Group D and earning a favourable knockout tie with France/Argentina could be the key to winning the Webb Ellis Cup.

 

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