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Australia’s stand-in captain David Pocock feels the World Cup team rotation deployed by head coach Michael Cheika can only make the Wallabies stronger.
Cheika has again named a much-changed line-up for the final Pool D game. Matt To’omua will be the Wallabies’ third different flyhalf of the tournament, one of some 10 fresh faces from the starting XV against Uruguay. There will also be a new-look front row, back row and half-back pairing to tackle Georgia, who were beaten by Fiji last time out.
While most head coaches have aimed for a settled selection, Cheika believes the continued opportunities to impress can keep everyone focused towards the knockout stage – which could yet throw up a showdown with England.
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By the end of the opening pool stage, all 31 Australia players will have got plenty of game time in Japan. Pocock will start in place of regular skipper Michael Hooper at openside flanker and feels healthy competition will help drive the group onwards.
“Guys have been working hard, pushing for selection every day at training. As players you see it as an opportunity,” Pocock said. “Someone may miss out, but someone gets an opportunity to play in a Wallabies jumper and stay there.
“You look at someone like Tevita (Kuridrani) last week (against Uruguay), I thought he had a great game, but competition is tough. It is exciting having depth and it is something we are going to need over the next few weeks.”
Georgia may already have been eliminated, but are just two points behind Fiji in the battle to secure third place – and with it a spot at the 2023 World Cup. “We have seen how good they are around set-piece, they relish it,” said Pocock.
“Their forward pack loves to rumble it forwards, so that is a really big threat for us to deal with and from there try and play our game. We have done our homework. You give every team the respect they deserve. I feel like we have prepped well.”
Georgia coach Milton Haig knows they will be up against the odds in what is set to be his final match after eight years in charge.
The New Zealander said: “We understand how difficult the job is going to be to create an upset, but it’s the World Cup and those types of things do happen in sport. Our job is to make sure we get on the park and play as well as we can do.”
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