Wallabies to learn World Cup fixture fate

Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies will have their first look at the 2019 Rugby World Cup final venue this weekend and the path they have to tread to get there will be crystallised on Thursday.

Two years to the day until the 2019 Rugby World Cup final, World Rugby will unveil the fixtures for each team in Tokyo, as well as details around ticket prices and logistics.

Though the pool draws are already known, this next announcement is critical, giving teams an idea of the travel they will be undergoing.

In 2015, luck went the Wallabies’ way, playing in major centres in all bar one game and at Twickenham for all but two, also winning the ballot for their preferred training base.

Yokohama will host the 2019 Rugby World Cup final. Photo: Getty ImagesThis week is a chance for the Aussie players to have a taste of the atmosphere around Yokohama and the wider Japanese culture as well, attack coach Stephen Larkham said.

They will have another chance to test the Japanese waters next year, with one of the All Blacks’ home Bledisloe Tests slated for a move to Japan.

“It's invaluable to get to a venue before the World Cup,” Larkham said.

“Knowing that the World Cup final is going to be played at the stadium that we play at on Saturday night is a bonus for us and if we possible have a game here next year, then it'll be another opportunity for us to spend a bit of time here and get to know the layout.

"I think it'll bode well for the World Cup in two years' time."

Defence coach Nathan Grey said those World Cup previews would be an added benefit, but the primary focus was playing well to start the Spring Tour.

“There is so much footy to be played,” he said.

“In terms of 40 guys getting familiarisation and nuances of being here, culture and getting around they are important things but there's five per cent focus on that when the focus is on a really good, consistent performance on this tour.”

The Wallabies last played Japan in 2007. Photo: Getty ImagesLarkham played in the most recent Test between the two nations as well, in the 2007 World Cup, scoring two tries, but the Aussies are expecting a much closer scoreline than the 91-3 drubbing they handed out that night.

“They can certainly score points if you are not diligent defensively and you are a few per cent off,” Grey said.

“They have genuine game breakers who can hurt you off turnovers, good feet, good speed, good agility.

“When they get their good recyle going they are hard to stop. Even in the rain last weekend against the World XV they scored 25 points in pouring rain and a lot of opps created off turnover.

“They back themselves one-on-one and they scored a few tries with their strong leg drive close to the line.”

The Japanese will be missing some of their main strike weapons, with winger Akihito Yamada injured, but Australia will be wary of the threat of Rebels backrower Amanaki Mafi.

The Wallabies take on Japan on Saturday November 4, kicking off at 2:40pm local, 4:40pm AEDT LIVE on FOX SPORTS.