2015 turnaround provides 'comfort' for Wallabies ahead of 2019 World Cup

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

The Wallabies' bumpy journey into the 2015 Rugby World Cup final gives Bernard Foley confidence that they can transform themselves from world no. 7 to World Cup winners over the next year.

Less than a year out from the 2015 tournament, coach Michael Cheika was catapulted into the national job after Ewen McKenzie’s shock resignation only a week before the squad's Spring Tour departure.

The Wallabies only won one of four Tests on tour but by the next October, they were in a World Cup final against New Zealand.

Three years on and the Wallabies have again found themselves under immense pressure with a year to go until the World Cup.

The team and Cheika have faced heavy criticism after a poor winter and despite a pressure-relieving win over Argentina in Salta, scrutiny on a three-from-nine record in 2018 hasn't gone away.

Foley said the experience of their turbulent 2014-15 journey gives the players an understanding they can turn things around dramatically inside 12 months, and he admitted he had more confidence in this group than he held this time four years ago.

“I think having that experience is very comforting and knowing 12 months out from the World Cup last time that I didn't have that belief at all,” he said.

“Now, I've got that belief and I think we've definitely got the players to go out there and do that.

“I'm more than confident that we can go one better than we did last time with the players we've got and with the programs that we're setting up, the coaches we've got, to put in place where we need to be to win that World Cup.”

The Wallabies reconvened in Sydney on Wednesday before they depart for Japan on Saturday, after the Rugby Australia awards on Friday night.

After a week off, Foley said there was a sense in the squad that the second half of that Salta Test had shown what they could do, and need to keep doing.

“I think everyone knows how good we can be now,” he said.

“It's been realised, it's been seen so that's the mindset that we have to (have) to go forward, that that consistency that we approach every game like we did that second half. 

“That we start every game like that I suppose and we might not get all the results but at least that intent, that physicality, that's the way we want to play. I think we've shown ourselves we can do it, now it's doing that each and every week.

Foley’s playmaking partner Kurtley Beale said the Salta win could be a turning point for the Wallabies.

“I think so,” he said.

“Certainly shows the capability of how mentally tough we can be with the situation of the game.

“It's basically all up to the players, I think really the guys that are going out there pretty much flicking a switch from the get go and to be able to just keep at that and keep at it and keep at it and keep delivering so that we're not having these blanks and ill-discipline to stick to our shape.

“I think that's what's costs us, guys having lapses and I think that's the challenge and it's something we want to be able to keep continuing and keep working on so we've been able to build these consistent performances." 

Cheika will name his squad for the Japan trip on Thursday ahead of the side’s Saturday departure.

The Wallabies take on New Zealand in the third Bledisloe on Saturday October 7, kicking off at 4:45pm AEDT.