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‘Anything can happen’: Aussie journo on Wallabies’ World Cup chances

By Finn Morton
Eddie Jones, Head Coach of Australia, gestures a thumbs-up ahead of the 2023 Summer International match between France and Australia at Stade de France on August 27, 2023 in Paris, France. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Australian rugby scribe and broadcaster Brett McKay has weighed in on the Wallabies’ chances at the upcoming Rugby World Cup, saying “the quarter-finals needs to be the goal.”


The Wallabies have had a simply disastrous run of form under coach Eddie Jones this year. They have had five different captains across as many Tests, and they’re yet to win a match.

Playing against World Cup hosts France at Stade de France last Sunday, the Aussies showed plenty of promise, fight and character throughout the 41-17 defeat.

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They’re getting better, but wins continued to elude the men in gold – and rugby is, after all, a result-driven business. You can’t win a World Cup without winning some Tests.

“I’ve always maintained, mate, that the quarter-finals needs to be the goal first and foremost, and then anything after that you can worry about once you actually get there,” scribe Brett McKay said on Weekend Sport with Jason Pine.

“I’m not buying into this whole, ‘Australia’s guaranteed a semi-final spot.’ I get it’s an easier side of the draw but anything can happen in a knockout stage as we all know.

“As long as they can get through the quarter-final stage, then they can actually have a bit of a reset and have a good, hard crack after that.


“To get to the quarter-finals they’re still gonna have to be playing a hell of a lot better rugby than they’ve shown so far. That’s got to be the first priority.”

The young Wallabies will open their World Cup account against Georgia in Paris in about one week’s time. Australia are expected to win, but The Lelos are a team on the rise – they could cause an upset.

Australia will also come up against Wales, Fiji and Portugal in a tough pool.

While they’ve been picked on the perceived “easier side of the draw,” the Wallabies will need to bring their A-game to progress through to the knockout rounds.


“There has been a gradual progression, though. If they can take another step against Georgia… and they can get things sorted for Wales and Fiji to follow, then hopefully things take care of themselves,” McKay added.

“If they can get to a quarter-final that would mean they’ve won a few games so hopefully there’s a bit of confidence and momentum behind them.

“A semi-final would mark a good tournament. A dream scenario would absolutely be getting through to that.”

Australia are ranked ninth on World Rugby’s rankings, which is the second-best placing in Pool C. Wales are one spot back in 10th, and Georgia are just behind them at 11th.

The form team of the group, though, is Pacific Island powerhouse Fiji. The Flying Fijians have been good – very good – recently, and are tipped to “absolutely” move on to “the knockout stage.”

“A couple of weeks when Wales knocked off England I went, ‘Okay, they might be coming into some form here,’ but it feels they might have stagnated a bit over the last couple of weeks.


“Fiji have won, what is it, four of their last five which is hard to argue with. They were absolutely sensational against England at Twickenham.

“There’s probably an argument that they’re favourites to get through first, to get through top of the pool on current form.

“They’re a lot more than a banana skin, Fiji, I’m not going to say they’re a genuine contender but they are absolutely going to go into the knockout stage, I’m quite sure about that.”


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