‘They’re so close’: SBW adamant Wallabies can win World Cup

Save articles for later

Add articles to your saved list and come back to them any time.

Paris: The Wallabies still have what it takes to win the Rugby World Cup and New Zealand will rebound from a heavy defeat to South Africa by beating France in their opening match on Friday (Saturday 5am AEST).

That’s the view of Sonny Bill Williams, who says it would be foolish to write off the Wallabies given their favourable draw and young playing group.

Australia have not won a game from five attempts this year but should buck that trend against the 11th-ranked Georgians in Paris this weekend.

“They can win the World Cup,” Williams, who is part of Stan Sport’s World Cup coverage in France, told this masthead.

“They’re so close. People forget how good this Australian team is. All you have to do is look at the history. Australia is the third-ranked team in the history of rugby. They’ve won two World Cups.

“They have beaten South Africa twice [in 2021] when they were the best team in the world. Australia wins that game in Melbourne [against New Zealand last year] if they take that penalty. In Dunedin [last month], Quade [Cooper] levelled scores with a few minutes to go.

Will Skelton and the Wallabies in France.Credit: Getty

“The picture that is painted is doom and gloom. If you understand rugby, it’s not doom and gloom. This is one of the greatest rugby nations on earth. The rugby public and the Australian public should get behind this team because it’s not far off.”

Eddie Jones has gambled on youth when history shows World Cups are won by experienced teams.

Across their squad, the Wallabies have an average age 26.5, which is the youngest of all 20 teams competing in France.

South Africa (30.4), Samoa (29.5) and Ireland (29.4) have the oldest squads, while Italy (27) is the second-youngest group of players.

Sonny Bill Williams ahead of the 2019 World Cup. Credit: Getty

Williams, a two-time World Cup winner with New Zealand in 2011 and 2015, last month expressed his bemusement at Jones’ decision to leave Michael Hooper and Cooper out of the World Cup squad.

With Fiji now the highest ranked side (7th) in Australia’s pool, Williams can see a scenario where the Wallabies can make a semi-final and then do some damage.

“I think Australia will definitely get through to the quarters, they should win that and get through to the semis,” Williams said.

“I’m basing it off the pool they have. They have probably got the easiest pool in the competition but with the adversity they have gone through – for example an assistant coach walking out a week before the competition starts – they’ve still got a bloody good side and some world-class operators within that squad, like Will Skelton, Taniela Tupou, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase.

All Black coach Ian Foster. Credit: Getty

“They have a draw which will suit them perfectly because they are a young side. To bear the fruits at the end of the tournament, they need to build that confidence. If they can look after their discipline, be defensively sound and [No.10] Carter Gordon leads the way, they’ll surprise a few.”

Meanwhile, Williams conceded the All Blacks were “dominated in most facets” during their 35-7 loss to South Africa late last month.

New Zealand face hosts France in a mouth-watering game to open the tournament on Friday night (Saturday 5am AEST) in front of a sold-out crowd at the Stade de France in Paris.

There were almost one million requests for tickets for a match Williams is confident the Kiwis will triumph in.

‘If the All Blacks’ forward pack bring that physicality and lays a little bit of a platform, shut the gates.′

“I just have a feeling,” Williams said. “The All Blacks are generally expected to win every game but everyone is on the fence. France might go into this game favourites. I know what the boys are like. I know what it’s like to sit in the sheds when your back is against the wall. It’s like right, we can either fight or fly. They’ll definitely be looking to come and fight. They’ll be up for it. France will be too but I think New Zealand will get the job done.

“Call a spade a spade, they got dominated in most facets [by South Africa]. They were outmuscled, outplayed. The Springboks were just ferocious.

“In saying that, I really think that will be beneficial for the All Blacks going through that adversity. Maybe for All Blacks teams in the past that would have been a real severe killer blow but this team has gone through adversity in the last couple of years.

“If the All Blacks’ forward pack bring that physicality and lays a little bit of a platform, shut the gates.

“Richie Mo’unga, Mark Telea and Rieko [Ioane] will do their thing. If they can get that right, we’ll see some magic out there from this All Blacks team.”

Watch all the action from Rugby World Cup 2023 on the Home of Rugby, Stan Sport. Every match ad-free, live and on demand in 4K UHD from September 9.

Sports news, results and expert commentary. Sign up for our Sport newsletter.

Most Viewed in Sport

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article