Foketi: Wallabies not there to make up the numbers at the Rugby World Cup
Lalakai Foketi has boldly declared the Wallabies aren’t in France to make up the numbers and won’t be satisfied with anything less than winning the Rugby World Cup.
The Australians are considered rank outsiders to lift the William Webb Ellis trophy for the first time since 1999 given they are winless from four Tests this year.
They will get a gauge of their status on Monday morning (AEST) in Paris in a warm-up match against the hosts, who are second favourites behind New Zealand to become world champions.
Centre Foketi feels the team can prove the doubters wrong and win the title.
“Of course, that’s why we’re here and that’s why we play,” the 28-year-old said from Paris.
“It’s the biggest stage for the boys here and we didn’t come here just to take part.
“I’m sure that’s every team and they’re gunning for that title so it’s no different for us.”
Despite their poor record under Eddie Jones, who took over for his second stint as Wallabies coach this year, Foketi felt they were tracking well ahead of their opening pool match against Georgia at Stade de France on September 10 (AEST).
“If you watch our games closely, and internally, we know we’re heading in the right direction and everyone’s going to see that in the World Cup,” he said.
“We’re putting good performances in the first half, especially the last game in Dunedin and so I think we’re trending in the right direction.
“It’s a World Cup so we’ll go game by game and I think it’s whoever improves the most can get into those quarter-finals and semi-finals with everything humming.”
Jones will name his team for the France game on Friday, with Foketi set to start at inside centre with Samu Kerevi still recovering from a broken hand.
Ben Donaldson appears likely for his first match of the year, at fullback, while Jones could also look to give some other fringe players game time.
Foketi was part of the Wallabies line-up in Paris who suffered a cruel one-point loss after a late France try on last year’s Spring tour.
The NSW Waratahs ace said his memories of facing France were a “rollercoaster” of emotions.
Foketi finished off a stunning coast-to-coast try midway through the first half but was forced off five minutes later with a tour-ending leg fracture.
“Getting that try and all those emotions were really high and then the injury struck and it just changed,” he said.
“The boys flew off to Italy the next day and I had to fly home. It was bittersweet.
“It was a roller coaster – one of the highest highs in my career playing against France in France and then being on the next flight out to Sydney. It was tough.”