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Wallabies star optimistic about World Cup chances after mixed 2021

By Alex McLeod
(Photo by Anthony Au-Yeung/Getty Images)

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Wallabies star Allan Alaalatoa has remained upbeat about his country’s chances at next year’s World Cup following a mixed 2021 campaign.

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Under second-year head coach Dave Rennie, the Wallabies impressed as they clinched a series victory over a second-string France side in July before beating the Springboks in back-to-back tests during the Rugby Championship.

That kickstarted a five-match winning streak, during which they also beat Los Pumas and the Brave Blossoms, as they rocketed to a second-place finish in the Rugby Championship.

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Australia’s unbeaten run was also their longest – outside of a World Cup year – since 2008, but their good work was counterbalanced by run of poor results that included a winless Bledisloe Cup series and their first winless European tour in almost half a century.

All in all, the Wallabies finished 2021 with seven wins from 14 tests, a reflection of their inconsistency as struggled to maintain the glimpses of promise on show at various stages of the year.

Nevertheless, Alaalatoa, who played 10 tests for Australia last year, spoke highly of how the Wallabies are tracking as the 2022 season nears kick-off.

“I thought it was really good,” the Brumbies captain told media in Canberra earlier this week.

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“Obviously the results didn’t go our way on the Spring tour, but I think we learned a lot of tough lessons, which I think’s going to put us in good stead moving forward.

“I think what was special about that group was our culture and the connection we were building off the field, which correlated to the way that we were performing on the field, but it was just little things that we spoke about last December that we need to grow on and be better [at], firstly here in the Super Rugby environment, which can continue to push forward into those boys that get selected for the international series.”

The 27-year-old tighthead prop added that the culture developed within the Australian camp bodes well for the nation’s chances of pushing for a first World Cup title in 24 years in France next year.

“Yeah, I think there is, definitely,” Alaalatoa said when asked if he believes the Wallabies have built a strong foundation for the 2023 World Cup.

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“There is a great relationship between the players and the coaches. There’s a great alignment.

“I think there’s a lot of players, from the feedback last year, who feel very comfortable to have a discussion with any coach, whether that’s a one-on-one specific around rugby, or just about life and what’s going on in their everyday life.

“I think that connection is special to have, and I think that relates to the way that the boys are connecting off the field and that environment that you want to be a part of when you’re playing here in Australian rugby.

“It’s really special and just looking forward to what the boys who get selected in that team can do pushing forward.”

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