Pool B - Australia
Australia are always an unknown quantity at the World Cup. They are only team to have won a final twice, they always do well at finals and yet their performances immediately prior to the tournament are generally shaky. There is some domestic controversy surrounding the selection of George Gregan and other ageing players, but they can perform at the top level for any one off game.
Australia doesn't have the scrum or the tight five to win them a World Cup. Alongside Ireland, they have the best back line in the competition, but they may not have the necessary power.
All teams will target Australia up front and will know that their back line works on 30 or 40 per cent of posession. Opponents will know that Mortlock and Tuqiri, like O'Driscoll and D'Arcy for Ireland, can unleash deadly attacks and will try to limit their possession. The question for Australia is can they do enough with 30 per cent possession which they may only get against the more physical teams to win games.
Coach: John Connolly (Aus)
Captain: Stirling Mortlock
IRB Ranking: 5
Appearances: 1987, 1991, 1995, 1999, 2003
Odds to win: 10/1
Number of clubs: 752
Number of Registered players: 66,395
Matches MT W D L
29 24 0 5
Points For Against
Scores Tr Con Pen DG
74 76 122 93
Mortlock is the current Wallabies and ACT Brumbies captain and alongside Brian O'Driscoll is the best outside centre in the world game. At over six foot and weighing 100kg, Mortlock has the strength and speed to unlock defences and run home tries with seeming ease. In 53 test matches since his debut for Australia in 2000, Mortlock has scored an impressive 362 points.
Although he is coming to the end of his interntaional game, Gregan remains a key player for Australia. He is a thinking man's rugby player, is very intelligent and thinks games through in advance of playing. Gregan has an almost telepathic relationship with out half Larkham. He brings the runners on to the ball very well and gets the very best out of the Australian side.
A key player, although he has his discipline problems both on and off the pitch. The 6'3”, over 100kg ex-rugby league player brings the sort of physicality needed as far as bursting through the gain line is concerned. Although he has had problems with the media in Australia and with coaches, Tuquiri on his day is certainly world class.
Rugby in Australia
The first recorded game of rugby in Australia was on 25 July 1839 and involved members of the military. The first rugby football club that was established in Australia was at Sydney University in 1864. In 1899, the national team of Australia played their first match. On a tour to Britain in 1908 the team was originally called the Rabbits, but the players thought this was derogatory, so they changed it to Wallabies. Australia has won two out of five Rugby World Cups so far.