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Home > Blogs > Rupert Bates - A weekly blog from the world of rugby > ADVANCE AUSTRALIA - TO WORLD CUP GLORY?
Your NewsADVANCE AUSTRALIA - TO WORLD CUP GLORY?

Friday 30th April 2010
ADVANCE AUSTRALIA - TO WORLD CUP GLORY?

Where’s the early money going to go on next year’s World Cup? It is in New Zealand, so, obviously - Australia.
 
The All Blacks and the World Cups have been a cycle of four-year nightmares since they lifted the trophy first time out in 1987. If they do not win it on home turf next year, then the New Zealand meltdown will make the Greek economic collapse look little more than a dip – Hummus probably.
 
It would be one thing not winning it after 24 years of hurt; quite another thing losing it on New Zealand soil to the Wallabies. That’s not the worst of it. Australia are coached by Canterbury legend and Kiwi Robbie Deans.
 
If the Super 14 is any form guide, the Wallabies are running into ominous form and crucially building up strength in depth across most positions. What’s more the Australian rugby public are catching on, with record crowds for Australian franchise games in Super rugby.
 
The Anzac weekend, with matches played in Brisbane, Perth and Sydney was the highest aggregate Australian crowds ever recorded for a single round in the competition’s 15-year history – nearly 90,000 supporters in total. And there is more to come next year when the Melbourne Rebels join the competition.
 
The Australian revival starts, as it should, upfront. The Wallabies have a front-row for goodness sake. First-choice Wallaby props Waratah Benn Robinson and Ben Alexander of the Brumbies are, and need to be, top of their game, for Ben Daley and Laurie Weeks have been in awesome form, both in the tight and loose, for the team of the Super 14 to date the Queensland Reds. In between them, Reds hooker Saia Faingaa is a real contender for the Wallaby number two jersey. It is no coincidence World Cup winning prop Ewen McKenzie is in charge at Brisbane.
 
Put Force captain Nathan Sharpe alongside ever-improving Tahs lock Dean Mumm and you have a fine engine room, with James Horwill to come back from injury.
 
You know the Wallabies are strong when their two biggest names Matt Giteau and Rocky Elsom are hardly mentioned in Super 14 dispatches. Giteau made the headlines this week for the wrong reasons with a $5000 fine for criticising referee Steve Walsh, when most people would have given him a medal.
 
While Elsom, the supreme player in Europe last season on Irish province Leinster’s march to the Heineken Cup, has been quiet by his huge standards. By contrast Force blindside Matt Hodgson continues to seek and destroy on a mission to win a Test cap.
 
So grunt and grit in abundance in the pack. But the stars of the Super 14 season have been Reds half-backs Will Genia and Quade Cooper. Genia is George Gregan and much more and could take the Wallaby captaincy from Elsom, while Cooper is currently world rugby’s premier box office attraction. 
 
Cooper gets into trouble off the field; he causes no end of trouble on it, with sublime handling, running and footwork and his tactical awareness is growing by the week. Giteau is going to have to look to the number 12 jersey for Australia, if Berrick Barnes is not already wearing it.
 
Another Reds back causing waves is centre Will Chambers. How glad is Chambers that he is no longer plying his trade in rugby league with Storm. Wing Rod Davies is adding game sense to extraordinary pace and Peter Hynes relishing the counter-attacking freedom from full-back.
 
Having bigged up the Australian Super 14 sides, the Waratahs came a cropper today against the Highlanders to dent their semi-final chances. But tomorrow in Canberra it is the Brumbies v Reds and Giteau v Cooper.  
 
On Twitter, Cooper, on the eve of the match, said he was so hungry he could eat a cow. Perhaps he meant a Brumby. It should be a feast of rugby.
 
Rupert Bates

Posted by: , on April 30th 2010 on 02:56pm
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