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Youthful Wallabies have faith in winning Cup

  
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9/9/2011
By AAP .


The Wallabies have assured the doubters they're no joeys as they enter the Rugby World Cup with the youngest squad in the 20-team tournament but boasting the confidence and form to go all the way.

Australia take on Italy in their opening Pool A game on Sunday in Auckland with a squad the average age of less than 26 per player.

But star flanker David Pocock, now a 34-Test young veteran at 23, and selector and coaching co-ordinator David Nucifora believe the Wallabies are peaking beautifully.

Nucifora said coach Robbie Deans had been gearing the Wallabies' class of 2011 towards the quadrennial event for years.

"With most teams, you're always moving towards World Cups," Nucifora said on Thursday.

"A lot of our planning has gone back quite a few years with just the selection and development of our players.

"We've done a lot of work on trying to develop depth and competition within our playing ranks and that's built up with the selection of this squad.

"So we're really happy with the group that we've got and we feel that we've got a group of players where any one of the 30 guys now could be in that starting XV and do a great job - and it's taken a while to get there."

Pocock and 22-year-old fullback Kurtley Beale - last week crowned John Eales Medallist as Australia's player of the year - were both shortlisted for the IRB World Player of 2010 award.

Along with winger Digby Ioane, 26, halfback Will Genia, 23, lock and captain James Horwill, 26, and hooker Stephen Moore, 28, the officially recognised pair would be strongly considered for a place in anyone's World XV.

Victory over the Springboks in South Africa last month and then the All Blacks in Brisbane not only earned the Wallabies their first Tri Nations title in a decade, but also instilled the belief that the World Cup was within reach.

"It's been gradual improvements with a fair few hiccups along the way," Pocock said.

"But as a group we've gained a lot of experience. Over the past 12 months we've won a few really close games which in the past we were letting slip.

"So we've got that confidence and belief in ourselves, so it's just a matter of actually doing it now in the World Cup on the big stage and everyone's really excited about that opportunity."

Five-eighth Quade Cooper, the director of Australia's youthful backline, said the side had even grown from the painful experience of being thumped by New Zealand last month at Eden Park - the venue for a potential blockbuster World Cup final between the Wallabies and All Blacks.

"It's definitely not a Test I want to forget because games like that is how you learn," Cooper said.

"If everything goes your way, you get kind of complacent and you get caught up in having everything handed to you on a silver platter and that's not what's happened for myself or the team.

"We've had to battle through a game like that where we pretty much got taught a lesson and we bounced back against South Africa in a very tough game over in Durban and then came home to beat the All Blacks.

"We know that when our backs are against the wall we can very much pick up the ante.

"At the same time, when things are going well, we know with the confidence that we have as a group we can beat any team on any given day."