Rugby: Wallabies bank on two formations

Australia (in yellow) took on the United States in Chicago last Saturday in their run-up to the World Cup. They won 47-10.
Australia (in yellow) took on the United States in Chicago last Saturday in their run-up to the World Cup. They won 47-10.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

SYDNEY • Australia assistant coach Stephen Larkham has revealed that the Wallabies are preparing entirely different starting teams for their first two Rugby World Cup fixtures to counter the impact of a short turnaround between matches.

Australia open their Pool A campaign against Fiji at Millennium Stadium in Cardiff on Sept 23.

They are back in action four days later against pool minnows Uruguay at Villa Park in Birmingham.

Attack coach Larkham, speaking from the team's training base in the United States, said the squad would be split into two groups after they depart for England on Sunday.

"Once we get over there, it is 10 days before the first game and we are splitting into two teams basically," he told Sydney's Daily Telegraph. "We will have one team getting prepped for Fiji while the other team is prepping for Uruguay.

"One team will, for example, have a captain's run on the Tuesday and the other team, that will be their Monday session.

"It is a tricky week once we get over there so this week in the US will be our last chance to train together until Uruguay."

Head coach Michael Cheika said at the start of the season he wanted two or more players ready to slot into any position without disrupting the system.

He has chopped and changed his selections accordingly over the last five Tests.

Even world-class players like flanker David Pocock have spent time on the bench, chiming with Cheika's 23-man philosophy and the importance he places on the impact of the bench.

The limits of a 31-man squad mean he will be forced to name some of the team he has decided will face Uruguay to populate the bench against Fiji and vice versa.

Larkham suggested, however, that with an eye on the final two pool fixtures against hosts England on Oct 3 and Wales a week later, the contribution of the replacements might be limited.

"The plan at this stage is along those lines," the 102-cap Wallaby added. "Trying to give one whole team as much time as possible (against Fiji), and the other team as much time as possible in the other game, so we are not burning the players out."

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2015, with the headline 'Wallabies bank on two formations'. Print Edition | Subscribe