French Wallabies keeping it local with World Cup advice

by staff

Matt Giteau and Drew Mitchell are surrounded by plenty of Rugby World Cup winners but the pair say they’ll be keeping it local as the 2015 tournament ramps up.

As well as a coaching staff that includes 1991 and 1999 winners Stephen Larkham and Nathan Grey, the Toulon pair count former England flyhalf Jonny Wilkinson as a teammate.

When Wilkinson knocked the 2003 extra-time field goal over at Sydney’s Olympic Stadium, he instantaneously became a nationally revered and despised figure and the Wallabies are attempting to exact revenge on England, by winning the William Webb Ellis cup on English soil.

Mitchell said Wilkinson had been candid about his World Cup experiences, both good and bad, but they wouldn’t be seeking tournament advice from the veteran.

“I think he’s been pretty open about it about how it’s been one of the best things but also one of the more difficult things he’s had to do in his career,” he said.

“He’s obviously a great player and held in high regard not only here in England but around the world and for us to be able to...really pick his brain a little bit about how he goes about his game has been really beneficial for our games personally.

“(But) I don’t think it’s going to be of any benefit for us in this tournament.”

Mitchell said they had drawn on the experiences of players like Larkham and Grey among a host of former players who have been involved in the Wallabies' lead-up.

"Both of us have been to a couple of World Cups before and likewise we’ve been able to speak with players from our own country.

"We got the phone call to say that we were in the squad from players in the ‘99 world cup who we were able to speak to a little bit about that.

"We’ve obviously got some players that we’ve got access to that have also been there and been through that experience."

Australia still has a week to wait for its first match, against Fiji, but that has the added benefit of being able to watch England take on Fiji in the opener before their matches against either side, in what is likely to prove a battering for both sides.

Grey said while plans had been in the offing since the schedule came out, there would be a certain advantage to their later tournament start.

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has said the Wallabies will name two entirely different sides for their opening two matches, against Fiji and Uruguay.

One player unlikely to play in Australia’s opener is number 8 Wycliff Palu (hamstring), paving the way for Cheika to start both David Pocock and Michael Hooper, a combination that proved successful in the Rugby Championship.

Inside back Matt Toomua said the side had complete faith in the decision to shake up selections between matches.

“Having the best 15, 23 or 31 players in the squad can only be good for Australian rugby whatever the mix of that (is),” he said.

“How you do it is probably irrelevant.

“It’s great that we can field a strong team in whatever shape or form we do it.”