The ‘unpredictable’ Michael Cheika is again, the head coach who has been charged to shape the Qantas wallabies RWC goals, ahead of the 2019 tournament.
At the Qantas sponsored event held in and beside a huge Boeing jetliner, the team’s announcement was well-staged to showcase the potential of the Wallabies. A team he has directed since the former New South Wales coach took over in October 2014. A team that he insists has ‘as much chance as anyone’.
“We’ll be a little bit unpredictable, that’s been a little bit of our theme this year. If we don’t know what we’re doing no one will know what we’re doing.”
That throwaway line may be tongue in cheek, a way to offset doubters. With a win and two losses from The Rugby Championship, his team’s Rugby World Cup (RWC) goals are not yet certain. 31 players will be charged with keeping alive the countries hopes alive, in a tournament that the majority are calling the ‘most even ever’.
Unpredictable Cheika to shape Qantas Wallabies RWC goals
“These next few weeks are about building and adding that little extra edge as a squad. We’ll be working hard to make sure we deliver on the qualities we want people to see when we run out on the field in Japna,” was the pledge by Cheika.
His nominated captain again is 27-year old Michael Hooper. Assisted by Queensland Reds skipper Samu Kerevi, the collective group boasts 1406 caps. Near to one of the highest, when Will Genia, Adam Ashley Cooper and others contribute their experience.
— Qantas Wallabies (@qantaswallabies) August 23, 2019
None of those caps though are afforded to rookie player Jordan Petaia. His inclusion comes now, after several opportunities to wear the Gold jersey ended with injury. Cheika spoke of Petaia, “he has impressed me with his durability and he’s quick. His ability to learn fast.
“He’s getting straight into the team’s play, and he’s got a good connection with the lads. I see so much potential, now it’s about getting [a lot] some of that out over the next two months.”
Beginning to shape the Qantas Wallabies RWC goals will begin with a camp in New Caledonia, is the objective for Cheika and his assistant coaches. To harness and to extrapolate that potential in the group, before they kick off their RWC Pool D schedule, on Saturday September 21.
Australia v Fiji – Sapporo Dome, Japan
Question marks over David Pocock’s fitness, but not Wallabies credentials
Alongside the 2019 Qantas Wallabies RWC squad, is senior player David Pocock. Still to play any rugby since an on-going calf injury stopped-short his Super Rugby seasons. So to be included in the squad to go to Japan shows confidence in his health.
Tested thoroughly by Rugby Australia medics, the ACT Brumbies player called time on his Super Rugby career earlier this season. He, like so many others at this years event, would like nothing more than to ‘go out on a high’.
Michael Cheika said it best. “At the World Cup, every game is a grand final. And how you approach that – you don’t look any further down the road that what’s in front of you.”
That attitude aided the Qantas Wallabies in 2015. Not expected to peak so soon, after Cheika took over from Ewen McKenzie. Riding into the tournament after claiming the TRC [reduced in Tests, just like in 2019], that same unpredictable style was successful.
Less expectations rewarded with a place in the 2015 Cup final.
While the outcome then favoured New Zealand, it reinforced a strong RWC record. Two cup victories, twice runner-up, third place in 2011 and they claimed fourth place in the original event, in 1987. That makes Australia one of the most successful sides – besides New Zealand, South Africa, and France [who are yet to earn the title].
Can the unpredictable Aussies go far again? Who can say, but with an attitude of ‘never say die’ and both experience and potential – in David Pocock and Jordan Petaia respectfully – fans should know they will at least be entertained by the Qantas wallabies RWC goals.
Qantas Wallabies squad for 2019 Rugby World Cup
Allan Alaalatoa (34 Tests)*, Rory Arnold (22)*, Adam Coleman (33)*, Jack Dempsey (11)*, Folau Fainga’a (11)*, Michael Hooper – Captain (95), Sekope Kepu (105), Tolu Latu (15)*, Isi Naisarani (4)*, David Pocock (77), Izack Rodda (21)*, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto (15)*, Rob Simmons (97), Scott Sio (58), James Slipper (90), Taniela Tupou (15)*, Jordan Uelese (3)*
Adam Ashley-Cooper (118), Kurtley Beale (87), Bernard Foley (69), Will Genia (104), Dane Haylett-Petty (32)*, Reece Hodge (37)*, Samu Kerevi – Vice Captain (29)*, Marika Koroibete (23)*, Tevita Kuridrani (60), Christian Lealiifano (22)*, James O’Connor (47), Jordan Petaia (uncapped)*, Matt To’omua (46), Nic White (26)*
*Uncapped at a Rugby World Cup
“Main photo credit”