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Wallabies eye five-test tour of Europe as part of World Cup preparation

By AAP
(Photo by Albert Perez/Getty Images)

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The Wallabies are contemplating a five-test tour of Europe to finish the year as their path to the 2023 World Cup in France takes shape.

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Dave Rennie’s side will host England for three tests – in Perth, Brisbane and Sydney in July – before two games in Argentina in August.

They’ll be followed by two home tests against South Africa and then a two-test Bledisloe Cup – first at home, then in New Zealand at venues still to be finalised – against the All Blacks.

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Australia will then play Italy, France, Ireland and Wales on an end-of-year tour, while a plan to also play Scotland is in its infancy.

A five-test European tour, likely to begin in late October, would serve as an ideal build-up to the French World Cup showpiece over a similar time frame less than a year later.

The Wallabies have collected an 8-3-9 record since Rennie’s arrival, three draws among a win and two losses in 2020 followed by a 7-7 split last year.

That 2021 campaign included two and one-point losses to Scotland and Wales respectively on the Spring Tour, as well as three straight losses to New Zealand before a five-game winning streak.

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A loss at Twickenham last year was their eighth straight to England, Australia keen to end that drought on home soil ahead of a potential World Cup quarter-final against Eddie Jones’ side next year.

“You look at 2020, that was where we started, and then last year we improved on that,” captain Michael Hooper said of their arc towards France 2023.

“The expectation on our group is to improve again this year and if we can do that into the following year, then we’re looking pretty good come 2023.”

A 40-man squad not featuring any foreign-based players assembled on the Gold Coast at the weekend.

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Rennie said Queensland Reds five-eighth James O’Connor’s solid form made him a “frontrunner” for the No.10 against England after Japan-based Quade Cooper had impressed following his shock call-up last year.

“James has been excellent; very influential in the form of the Reds which is great to see,” Rennie said.

“He had a big year last year for the Reds as well and then got injured prior to the French series and took a long time to come back from that.

“So he’s certainly a frontrunner but Quade’s still an option for us.”

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