Wallabies unveil World Cup jersey as they prepare to silence "doubters" in Japan

Rugby World Cup
Beth Newman Profile
by Beth Newman

Wallabies captain Michael Hooper says he wants the 2019 Rugby World Cup jersey to be one that lasts in the memories of fans for years to come.

Hooper, who was a vice-captain in the last World Cup, said jerseys can live on for years after the fact, tied to what was achieved in the strip.

"I've been lucky enough to be involved in one and the unique nature of them - that team there in 2015 only wore it then and you look back at previous games, you have very fond memories," he said.

"Me as a player fond memories of wearing it, I hope that people have fond memories of this jersey in future, just walking down the street and going "I was at this place when I was watching the game in the 2019 Japan World Cup".

"I think that's something that a jersey can create, that nostalgia and bring back feelings of that."

Rugby AU CEO Raelene Castle described the team's World Cup mission as an underdog story and that there'd be plenty of doubters along the way.

“There are some doubters but there is nothing like a World Cup to bring out the best in our Wallabies," she said at Wednesday's launch.

“Michael Cheika has proven it is never a wise move to write him off in a World Cup and don’t we all love a good underdog story.

“There is no greater challenge in our sport and it is a challenge our players are preparing to meet head on."

Sitting at upwards of 15-1 in the bookmakers' eyes, the Wallabies are certainly considered outsiders but Hooper described the odds as "juicy".

"Is that what we're at 17-1?," he said when told of the odds.

"I can't bet on it but that is juicy there."

While a World Cup jersey reveal might seem like a trivial moment on the way to the serious task of actually trying to win the tournament, Hooper said the strip was an aspirational symbol as well.

"If you look good, you feel good and then it helps your mentality and your confidence around running onto the field," he said.

"Also the want for guys to see the jersey and go "Geez, I'd love to be wearing that at the World Cup.

"That's the stage we're at at the moment is the build up and the preparation so seeing something you can see yourself in is going to be very helpful."

It won't be the first time the Wallabies head into a World Cup not among the favourites - in 2015, little was expected of the side that eventually made the final and Hooper said that was true even further back as well.

"Historically Wallaby teams do do very well (at World Cups)," Hooper said.

"In the '99 world cup, speaking to a couple of players there, years previous to that weren't record-breaking, amazing years - I could be fact-checked on that but from speaking, they weren't as good as they were when they came in that 99 world cup and from there what that stemmed afterwards was amazing.

"If we're being a part of one, it's very exciting to have that in the future there and really going to try and put my hand up to be in the best possible shape for that."

Flyhalf Bernard Foley said the kit could be a uniting symbol.

"I think it looks great," he said.

"A jersey is something that can really ignite the team and unite a nation and we're really proud to unveil it today and now once this is out there it's the real start of the preparation. We can't wait for the World Cup and we know there is a lot of hard work to happen between now and then but it's great we can now show this off to our country and supporters."

Australia's place in the pecking order doesn't seem to be worrying Wallabies fans, with Australia among the highest numbers of ticket sales for the World Cup.

More than 60,000 Aussie are expected to descend on Japan for the World Cup - the equivalent of 120 plane loads.

The tournament kicks off on September 20 with Japan taking on Russia before the Wallabies kick off against Fiji on September 21 in Sapporo.