Second-rower Adam Coleman says the Wallabies must take momentum from their World Cup opener against Fiji heading into a second pool game against Wales that could decide their fate at the tournament.
While the Wallabies have stuck all week to the cliche of taking their tournament one game at a time the Wales clash next Sunday should be the highlight of Pool D fixtures.
Preparation: Michael Cheika addresses his players at training in Odawara. Credit:Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley
Australia are expected to beat Fiji and while the Pacific Island team are thought to be much improved to the one that fell 28-13 to the men in gold at the 2015 World Cup, the Wallabies will want to rack up plenty of points to go into the Wales match brimming with confidence.
It will have been more than a month since the majority of Australia’s starting XV have played since a disastrous 36-0 defeat to New Zealand at Eden Park on August 17 and those players are eager to atone for that result.
Adam Coleman at training in Odowara.Credit: Rugby AU Media/Stuart Walmsley
"It is very important to start our campaign well and that will flow into the Welsh game," Coleman said. "Fiji are a quality side who are very physical and love to throw the ball around. It’s going to be indoors so there should be some great running rugby and there is a good buzz around the team."
If the Wallabies win both their games against Fiji and Wales – barring a disaster against either Uruguay or Georgia – they will top Pool D and set up a quarter-final outing with the second-placed team in Pool C that features England, France, Argentina, USA and Tonga.
Assuming England, ranked third in the world, top their pool, Australia could expect a meeting with World Cup overachievers France or 2015 semi-finalists Argentina.
A win over Fiji and loss to Wales would likely see Australia finish second and meet England in a quarter-final; a side they have not beaten in six attempts since the last World Cup.
Falling to Fiji would be a disastrous start to the campaign and have Australia staring down the barrel of failing to qualify for the knockout stages for the first time at a World Cup.
Coleman said there was an added sense of occasion about the tournament, even before the Wallabies travel to Sapporo where they play on the weekend.
"This is the pinnacle," he said. "This is why everyone plays, this is what it’s about. The best of the best are competing and I really feel like Cheik [coach Michael Cheika] has got the boys in a great place and ready to throw the ball around.
"The experience of a World Cup is already different, the week of prep has already been different. We’re trying to keep it as normal as possible."
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