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‘It’s not ideal’: Assistant coach on Wallabies’ bleak quarterfinal hopes

By Finn Morton
The players of Australia form a huddle at full-time following the Rugby World Cup France 2023 match between Australia and Portugal at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard on October 01, 2023 in Saint-Etienne, France. (Photo by Chris Hyde/Getty Images)

Led by captain David Porecki, the Wallabies grouped together as brothers-in-arms on the field at Stade Geoffroy-Guichard Stadium for a moment of celebration after beating Portugal 34-14.


But there was also a sombre feeling felt around the stadium.

Having beaten Los Lobos in Saint-Etienne on Sunday, Eddie Jones’ Wallabies have probably finished their campaign on a high note. The Aussies stayed “alive” at the World Cup with the 20-point win, but only just.

The Wallabies will avoid a disastrous pool stage exit if Portugal beats the Flying Fijians by eight points or more on Sunday evening. That result would send shockwaves throughout the rugby world.

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With an uncertain future ahead of them, the men in gold will make the most of their bye week with three days off starting on Monday. Some players even travelled up to Lyon.

Wallabies assistant coach Dan Palmer believes Portugal can upset Fiji, but insisted the Aussies will continue to prepare for a quarterfinal clash with England “and see what happens.”

“Our goal was to keep ourselves alive. It’s not ideal that it’s out of our hands but that’s the position we put ourselves in,” Palmer said on Monday morning.

“We did everything we could last night to keep ourselves alive.  Now we’ll go away, freshen up then prepare as if we’re playing a quarter-final and see what happens.”



The Wallabies started their World Cup campaign with a confidence-building win over Georgia at Stade de France, with utility Ben Donaldson a surprise hero for the men in gold.

But that’s as good as things got for Australia. The Wallabies lost to Fiji for the first time since 1954 and followed that up with a record World Cup defeat to Warren Gatland’s Wales.

If the win over Portugal does end up being their last Test of the year, the Wallabies will have lost seven matches from nine starts under coach Eddie Jones.

“When things like this happen it’s important you spend the time to debrief, review, make sure you learn from it and get a plan together going forward,” Palmer added.


“Just having the experience is not going to do anything, but spending the time going through it, talking to each other about it, talking to the coaches, is the most important thing.”


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