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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 September 2007, 10:28 GMT 11:28 UK
Australia RWC team guide
A one-stop guide to all you need to know about Australia for the 2007 Rugby World Cup.

Fixtures (Pool B):

  • v Japan - 8 September, 1445 BST, Lyon
  • v Wales - 15 September, 1400 BST, Cardiff
  • v Fiji - 23 September, 1330 BST, Montpellier
  • v Canada - 29 September, 1400 BST, Bordeaux

    Recent form: Encouraging. Pushed the Springboks to the limit in South Africa and then beat the All Blacks for the first time since 2004 in the Tri-Nations. Appear to have re-established a forward platform and their defensive solidity.

    Coach: John Connolly. The Australian Rugby Union turned to former Queensland coach "Knuckles" early in 2006 after a disastrous run of defeats under Eddie Jones. Been round the block after spells with Swansea, Stade Francais and Bath.

    Captain: Stirling Mortlock. The powerhouse centre has replaced George Gregan - a constant target for criticism since the last World Cup - and leads by example in attack and defence. Not a 100% goalkicker, but loves the big occasion.

    World Cup pedigree: Exceptional. The only country to win the World Cup twice, in 1991 and 1999. Also beaten finalists last time; only faux pas came in losing a third place play-off to Wales in 1987, and a quarter-final to England in 1995.

    World Cup high: Turning over reigning champions New Zealand in the 1991 semis and then England at Twickenham in the final. Stephen's Larkham's extra-time drop-goal against South Africa in the semis made the final victory over France almost an anti-climax by comparison.

    World Cup low: Not withstanding that surprise defeat to Wales in 1987, losing the 2003 final on home soil in Sydney, in the last minute of extra-time, was a sickener.

    World Cup legend: David Campese's 1991 exploits spring readily to mind but two players, Tim Horan and John Eales, played in both the 1991 and 1999 triumphs. And the great Eales is not known as "Nobody('s perfect)" for nothing.

    Present star: Dreadlocked former rugby league star Lote Tuqiri, when he's not serving bans for late-night drinking sessions, is an awesome sight in full flight. But the versatile Matt Giteau, who moved from ACT to Western Force in a cool 1.9m deal, has all the skills - from centre or half-back.

    Maverick: Matt Dunning became a cult hero for New South Wales with several stunning interceptions, but the 19-stone prop initially struggled with the demands of Test rugby. Once punched a Waratahs team-mate after a drinking spree, but now has the caps to go with the off-field capers.

    Enforcer: Nathan Sharpe. The burly, bald lock learnt his trade alongside John Eales at Queensland, but exudes a far more menacing approach than his old second-row partner.

    Strengths: The ability to keep the ball for long periods of time, a streetwise approach and an innate winning mentality mean they usually peak when it matters.

    Weaknesses: The front row remains a concern when it comes to scrum-time against a top-notch trio. And can they unleash the full potential of their strike runners behind?

    Did you know? Wallabies full-back Julian Huxley missed the final match of this year's Tri-Nations against New Zealand after picking up a thigh injury being tackled by a Brumbies an awards ceremony.

    World Cup base: Montpellier (from 31 August)

    They say: "Since "Knuckles" (Connolly) took over, I think we've definitely improved. We've built some nice momentum and the confidence within the group is really good. Hopefully it'll be a seven-week campaign."
    George Gregan, scrum-half

    You say: "Australia should finish top of this group...I hope the crunch game in Cardiff is a cracker."
    Linebreaker on 606

    World ranking: 2

    Odds: 10/1

    Our verdict: Will fancy their chances in a quarter-final against either England or South Africa, and the All Blacks should be waiting in the semis. Know how to beat the favourites, so don't discount another final just yet.

    Ranking and odds correct at 26 August. Odds supplied by William Hill.

    Wallabies to open with strong XV
    21 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
    Aussie duo given World Cup curfew
    14 Aug 07 |  Rugby Union
    Ailing Wallabies turn to Connolly
    02 Feb 06 |  Rugby Union
    Rugby union positions guide
    05 Feb 07 |  Laws & Equipment
    Country profile: Australia
    09 May 07 |  Country profiles


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