Rugby World Cup: Pool D Preview - Green and Gold Rugby
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Rugby World Cup: Pool D Preview

Rugby World Cup: Pool D Preview

The long wait is nearly over as we are just under a week before the start of the Rugby World Cup. Over the next four days, we will breakdown the four pools leading into the start of the tournament on Friday.

We finish off today with Pool D, home to the mighty Wallabies. They will face some tough competition in former number one’s Wales and the flying Fijians, along with the emerging Georgia and Uruguay.

Australia

WAL009

The Wallabies enter this World Cup looking to go one better than 2015 after their 34-17 loss to the All Blacks in the final. They looked nothing like that side in 2018, recording one of the worst years in almost 60 years. But coach Michael Cheika has seemingly turned the ship around and instilled some hope in Australian fans, with wins over Argentina and the All Blacks signalling their intentions heading into the World Cup

How they Qualified

By finishing first in their pool in 2015

Recent form

2018 was a year to forget, with the Wallabies finishing the year with four victories from 13 games, their worst since 1958. This included loses to Pool D rivals Wales, England and Argentina, which appeared to damage the hopes and dreams of Australian fans.

However, the side has experienced a revival in 2019, with a win over Argentina followed up by a record-breaking win over then number one ranked All Blacks establishing them as a dark horse for the World Cup.

Squad

Michael Hooper (c), Kurtley Beale, Dane Haylett-Petty, Reece Hodge, Marika Koroibete, Jordan Petaia, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Tevita Kuridrani, James O’Connor, Samu Kerevi, Matt Toomua, Christian Lealiifano, Bernard Foley, Nic White, Will Genia, Isi Naisarani, Jack Dempsey, David Pocock, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda, Adam Coleman, Rob Simmons, Allan Alaalatoa, Taniela Tupou, Sekope Kepu, Scott Sio, James Slipper, Tolu Latu, Folau Fainga’a, Jordan Uelese

Coach: Michael Cheika

Player to watch

380_DSC_9226_2013_08_17_5010

Christian Lealiifano
Lealiifano has made a remarkable recovery to the international area, having being diagnosed with leukaemia, recovering from the life-threating disease and earning back the starting Wallabies flyhalf position since the last World Cup. He seems to be the ring-master for this Wallabies attack heading forward and he needs to control the game and get early ball to the likes of Kerevi and O’Connor if they wish to thrive.

World Cup History

Played: 48
Wins: 39
Loses: 9
Best Finish: Winners (1991, 1997)

Last Five World Cups
2015: Second
2011: Third
2007: Quarter Finals
2003: Second
1999: First

Prediction

The Wallabies are the dark horse heading into this tournament and I think they wouldn’t want it any other way. The first two matches against Fiji and Wales are crucial for Australia. If they can get through both of these (which I think they will), then they can easily make the semi-finals with the hopes of going further if they put in another Perth performance. If the Aussies slip up, it would likely leave them running the gauntlet of England and the All Blacks just to make the final, which is a tough ask for any side.

Wales

England v Wales - RBS Six Nations 2012

Wales head into the World Cup in the midst of the third coming of their ‘golden age’, having run rough-shot throughout the international landscape across the last 12 months to briefly get to number one, before loses to England and Ireland resided them to fourth. Winning the Grand Slam in 2019 has positioned themselves as a favourite heading into the tournament, although a barren run of World Cup form and the loss of Gareth Anscombe have left the side with some doubters.

How they Qualified

By finishing second in their pool at the World Cup in 2015

Recent form

Wales arguably come into the tournament with one of the best form lines, having won their last nine games straight in 2018. They continued this red-hot streak by winning the Grand Slam in 2019, before splitting the series against England 1-1 and losing to Ireland in their last warm-up game to officially relinquish the number one ranking.

Squad

Alun Wyn Jones (c) Jake Ball, Adam Beard, Rhys Carre, James Davies, Elliot Dee, Ryan Elias, Tomas Francis, Cory Hill, Wyn Jones, Dillon Lewis, Ross Moriarty, Josh Navidi, Ken Owens, Aaron Shingler, Nicky Smith, Justin Tipuric, Aaron Wainwright, Josh Adams, Hallam Amos, Dan Biggar, Aled Davies, Gareth Davies, Jonathan Davies, Leigh Halfpenny, George North, Hadleigh Parkes, Rhys Patchell, Owen Watkin, Liam Williams, Tomos Williams

Coach: Warren Gatland

Player to watch

372_DSC_7815_2013_07_06_3651

Alun Wyn Jones
Wyn Jones is likely heading to his last World Cup, with the 33-year-old establishing himself as the heart and soul of the Welsh team during his extensive career. Wyn Jones holds the distinguished achievement of being the most capped lock in international rugby and he will need to lead from the front and call on his vast experience to get Wales deep into the knock-out stages.

World Cup History

Played: 37
Wins: 21
Loses: 16
Best Finish: Third (1987)

Last Five World Cups
2015: Quarter Finals
2011: Fourth
2007: Group Stages
2003: Quarter Finals
1999: Quarter Finals

Prediction

Whilst many have Wales picked to top this group, I just can’t pull the trigger on them this year. I think they peaked too early and their history in World Cups against Australia and the loss of Anscombe will be too much. I’m predicting they finish second and will put on a spirited effort against England before narrowly failing in the quarters.

Fiji

ForceFiji12a

Fiji enters the tournament full of confidence with what coach John McKee has described as their deepest and most talented squad yet. Their skills have been on full display across the past 18 months and they will be eager to cause an upset over the likes of Wales and Australia as revenge for their early departure at the previous World Cup.

How they Qualified

By finishing third in their pool in 2015

Recent form

Fiji had a mixed 2018 international season, with wins against France, Samoa and Georgia followed up by loses to Tonga and Scotland. They opened their Pacific Nations Cup campaign with a loss to Japan before victories over Canada, Samoa and Tonga helped to restore their confidence heading into the World Cup.

Squad

Dominiko Waqaniburotu(c), Mesulame Dolokoto, Samuel Matavesi, Ratu Vere Vugakoto, Campese Ma’afu, Eroni Mawi, Peni Ravai, Manasa Saulo, Kalivati Tawake, Tevita Cavubati, Leone Nakarawa, Api Ratuniyarawa, Tevita Ratuva, Semi Kunatani, Viliame Mata, Mosese Voka, Peceli Yato, Frank Lomani, Nikola Matawalu, Henry Seniloli, Levani Botia, Jale Vatubua, Ben Volavola, Vereniki Goneva, Filipo Nakosi, Waisea Nayacalevu, Semi Radradra, Josua Tuisova, Joshua Matavesi, Alivereti Veitokani, Kini Murimurivalu

Coach: John McKee

Player to watch

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Leone Nakarawa
The Racing 92 superstar was named European Player of the Year last season after an impressive campaign which saw the 31-year-old lead the Parisians the Champions Cup final. Nakarawa is among four Fiji squad members at the World Cup who also won a gold medal at the Rio Olympics in 2016 and he will have to draw on this experience, along with his freakish length and speed if they want to cause a boil-over.

World Cup History

Played: 28
Wins: 10
Loses: 18
Best Finish: Quarter Finals (1987, 2007)

Last Five World Cups
2015: Group Stages
2011: Group Stages
2007: Quarter Finals
2003: Group Stages
1999: Quarter Finals Play-Off

Prediction

Fiji has the talent and skills to cause an upset, although I don’t think that it will happen at this World Cup. They will test the top teams, however, I think Australia and Wales will ultimately be too strong and they will comfortably finish third in this group.

Georgia

England v Georgia - IRB RWC 2011 Match 18

Georgia will enter the tournament in a rich vein of form, coming off their most successful World Cup campaign in 2015 after wins over Tonga and Namibia. The Lelos are led by New Zealander Milton Haig and an impressive 2018 have them ready to shock the world and show their rapid improvement.

How they Qualified

By finishing third in their pool at the 2015 World Cup

Recent form

Georgia started 2018 on a low note with loses against Fiji, Japan and Italy. However, they followed this with an impressive 7 game winning streak, which saw them secure wins over the likes of Samoa, Tonga and Russia. They were brought back down to Earth with two crushing losses to Scotland in their final warm-up games before the World Cup.

Squad

Merab Sharikadze(c), Mikheil Nariashvili, Guram Gogichashvili, Shalva Mamukashvili, Jaba Bregvadze, Vano Karkadze, Levan Chilachava, Giorgi Melikidze, Beka Gigashvili, Giorgi Nemsadze, Shalva Sutiashvili, Mamuka Gorgodze, Kote Mikautadze, Giorgi Tkhilaishvili, Lasha Lomidze, Otar Giorgadze, Beka Gorgadze, Beka Saghinadze; Sandro Todua, Soso Matiashvili, Mirian Modebadze, Zurab Dzneladze, Davit Katcharava, Tamaz Mtchedlidze, Giorgi Kveseladze, Lasha Malaghuradze, Lasha Khmaladze, Tedo Abzhandadze, Giorgi Begadze, Vasil Lobzhanidze, Gela Aprasidze

Coach: Milton Haig

Player to watch

RUGBYU-IRL-GEO

Merab Sharikadze
Sharikadze has signified the emerging talent that is coming through the Georgian system, with the 26-year-old plying his trade for Stade Aurillacois in the Pro D2. He shapes as their main threat heading forward and he needs to command possession and take the game on if Georgia wants to be successful and compete against their much-fancied rivals.

World Cup History

Played: 16
Wins: 4
Loses: 12
Best Finish: Group Stages

Last Five World Cups
2015: Group Stages
2011: Group Stages
2007: Group Stages
2003: Group Stages
1999: DNQ

Prediction

There is promise and talent in this squad, however, it seems to be a mountain too high for the Lelos. Their key match will come against Uruguay and if they play to their potential, they will give them a run for their money.

Uruguay

Uruguayan team captain Diego Ormeachea (R), oldest

Rounding out the group is Uruguay, who will be aiming for just their third World Cup win. They will be looking to build off their success in the Americas Rugby Championship, where they put together a string of strong performances in their second-place finish. Their squad contains a mix of local talent along with players playing in the US Pro league, with coach Esteban Meneses looking to continue his transformation of Uruguanian rugby with a win or two.

How they Qualified

Qualified by winning the Americas Repechage play-off against Canada 70-60 on aggregate.

Recent form

Uruguay got 2019 off to a flying start with a dominant performance in the Americas Rugby Championship with wins against Canada, USA and Brazil. Los Teros then took out the World Nations Cup after defeating Russia and an Argentinan XV. They rounded out their preparations with a 41-21 loss to Spain in Montevideo and a 35-24 loss to an Argentinian XV.

Squad

Juan Manuel Gaminara(c), Facundo Gattas, Joaquín Jaunsolo, Mateo Sanguinetti, Germán Kessler, Guillermo Pujadas, Diego Arbelo, Juan Echeverría, Juan Pedro Rombys, Ignacio Dotti, Manuel Leindekar, Diego Magno, Franco Lamana, Manuel Ardao, Santiago Civetta, Manuel Diana, Juan Diego Ormaechea, Alejandro Nieto, Agustín Ormaechea, Santiago Arata, Felipe Berchesi, Felipe Etcheverry, Juan Manuel Cat, Santiago Vilaseca, Agustín Della Corte, Tomás Inciarte, Federico Favaro, Nicolás Freitas, Leandro Leivas, Gastón Mieres, Rodrigo Silva

Coach: Esteban Meneses

Player to watch

Credit: Getty Images

Credit: Getty Images

Leandro Leivas
Leivas is one of the players that has taken advantage of the professionalisation of the US comp, having signed with Canadian Club Toronto Arrows at the end of last year. The 31-year-old has excelled since his time at the Arrows and will be an X-factor for Uruguay on the wing with his lightening speed.

World Cup History

Played: 11
Wins: 2
Loses: 9
Best Finish: Group Stages

Last Five World Cups
2015: Group Stages
2011: DNQ
2007: DNQ
2003: Group Stages
1999: Group Stages

Prediction

I think Uruguay will struggle in this tournament having to essentially rely on beating either Fiji or Georgia to secure their third World Cup win. Expect them to put some fight up before they get outclassed by better sides.

Final Table Prediction

1st: Australia
2nd: Wales
3rd: Fiji
4th: Georgia
5th: Uruguay

Fixtures (All times AEST)

21 September 2019: Australia v Fiji, Sapporo Dome, Sapporo (2:45pm)
23 September 2019: Wales v Georgia, City of Toyota Stadium, Toyota (8:15pm)
25 September 2019: Fiji v Uruguay, Kamaishi Recovery Memorial Stadium, Kamaishi (3:15pm)
29 September 2019: Georgia v Uruguay, Kumagaya Rugby Stadium, Kumagaya (3:15pm)
29 September 2019: Australia v Wales, Tokyo Stadium, Chōfu (5:45pm)
3 October 2019: Georgia v Fiji, Hanazono Rugby Stadium, Higashiosaka (3:15pm)
5 October 2019: Australia v Uruguay, Oita Stadium, Ōita (3:15pm)
9 October 2019: Wales v Fiji, Oita Stadium, Ōita (8:45pm)
11 October 2019: Australia v Georgia, Shizuoka Stadium Ecopa, Fukuroi (9:15pm)
13 October 2019: Wales v Uruguay, Kumamoto Stadium, Kumamoto (7:45pm)

  • Keith Butler

    Logic would say the G&G and the Taffs but Fiji may spoil someone’s party. The Aussies have to hit the ground running this Saturday. Can’t wait for the comp to kick off.

  • Kiwi rugby lover

    Thanks Nathan,
    While I love the optimism and home team support I’m not so sure I agree. I think Wales have improved as much as the Wallabies have regressed and while I do agree that the game is likely to be close, I think with the experience of winning the 6 Nations this year Wales will win this one.
    I’m picking Wales 1 and Wallabies 2

  • adastra32

    Good review. Not sure that the AB and ARG wins constitute a “turnaround” yet, but it was more encouraging than getting universally beaten. Wales are now a very tough side to beat and the “hex” that many (WB) supporters felt that they had over them has been broken. Wales 1. WBs 2.

  • Duncher

    So excited!!!!! Is there a GAGR superbru competition???

Fiji
@NathW1997

Loved rugby since the day I could remember, got the nickname Footy to show that, I watch Matt Dunning's dropkick every night before going to bed

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