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Introducing Australia: Wallabies flying ahead of Autumn Nations Series

Introducing Australia: Wallabies flying ahead of Autumn Nations Series

Introducing Australia: Wallabies flying ahead of Autumn Nations Series

Fresh from a second-place finish in the Rugby Championship, a rejuvenated Australia will go into the Autumn Nations Series with renewed confidence and momentum.

Three consecutive defeats to the All Blacks had left many questioning the direction of Dave Rennie’s side but the Wallabies turned their fortunes around – starting with back-to-back wins over the Springboks.

Australia backed up those victories over the reigning world champions with consecutive wins against Argentina on the Gold Coast to finish runners-up to New Zealand.

That was the first time the Wallabies have won four successive Tests in the Rugby Championship, suggesting the men in gold will be a force to be reckoned with this autumn.

ANALYSIS

Three defeats in the space of a month against the All Blacks earlier this year was not a good look for Australia or Rennie off the back of a hard-fought series win over France.

Les Bleus had pushed the Wallabies all the way in their own backyard, with Noah Lolesio’s last-minute penalty in the third Test the deciding factor in their 2-1 series triumph.

Michael Hooper

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That was followed by a one-sided Bledisloe Cup as New Zealand won all three encounters with Australia – with the second two counting towards the Rugby Championship.

But ahead of back-to-back meetings with South Africa, Rennie shocked the world by re-calling playmaker Quade Cooper – ending a four-year international hiatus for the 33-year-old.

His experience proved key in Australia’s revival after being handed the No.10 shirt, marshalling the backline and kicking 23 points to help the hosts to a 28-26 victory on the Gold Coast.

Buoyed by that success, the Wallabies delivered an even more emphatic performance in the rematch as they ran in four tries to secure a 30-17 bonus-point win a week later.

And having dispatched Argentina with 27-8 and 32-17 wins, Australia’s four-match winning streak will have given their autumn opponents plenty of food for thought.

Skipper Michael Hooper is certainly looking forward to the challenges that await his side on their northern hemisphere tour, which includes a Test against Japan on October 23.

“This tour is a great opportunity for us,” he said. “A lot of our guys haven’t been up north (northern hemisphere) and we’ve got a World Cup there in two years.

“To have the opportunity to play in front of hopefully full stadiums is great for everyone, and playing different teams will present different challenges.”

KEY PLAYERS

Where better to start than Quade Cooper? The immensely talented playmaker now has 74 Tests under his belt after his sensational Rugby Championship return for Australia.

After four years out of the Test arena, his recall was controversial but he showed he warranted his place with a flawless kicking display in his first match back against the Springboks.

Cooper’s experience will prove invaluable once again to the Wallabies in the upcoming Autumn Nations Series while his accuracy off the tee will no doubt be an asset for his side.

 

Quade Cooper Australia

Yet Cooper was not the only player to impress during the Rugby Championship, with Australia also uncovering a new star in classy winger Andrew Kellaway.

The 25-year-old finished as the tournament’s top try-scorer with seven in his debut season so don’t be surprised to see him causing defenders all sorts of problems in the Autumn Nations Series.

Young guns Len Ikitau and Darcy Swain have also enjoyed superb debut seasons in the gold jersey while 2021 has seen Rob Valetini come of age as a Test backrower.

Last but not least, no talk about Australia’s key players can pass without mention of their fearless leader Michael Hooper, with the 29-year-old one of the very best in the business.

The openside flanker made history by becoming the Wallabies’ most-capped skipper in the second Test against South Africa and his talismanic presence rarely goes unnoticed when he plays.

SCHEDULE

Australia face a tough Autumn Nations Series schedule as they travel to Scotland, England and Wales after beginning their northern hemisphere tour with a trip to Japan.

The Brave Blossoms will certainly provide a stern test for their visitors with their entertaining brand of rugby before the Wallabies begin their Autumn Nations Series in Scotland.

Scotland claimed a record 53-24 win over Australia last time they visited BT Murrayfield although the Wallabies have the better head-to-head record with 21 wins from 32 meetings.

Rennie’s men will then turn their attention to a showdown with old foes England, with the hosts winning their last meeting 40-16 in the quarter-finals of the 2019 Rugby World Cup.

In fact, England have won seven on the bounce against Australia, starting with 2016’s 3-0 series whitewash, so the visitors will have a point to prove when they run out at Twickenham.

Australia’s final match of the Autumn Nations Series sees them travel to Cardiff to take on reigning Guinness Six Nations champions Wales at Principality Stadium.

While the Wallabies have traditionally dominated this match-up (winning 30 of their 43 matches), Wales have won the last two – including their pool match at the 2019 World Cup.

So, while Australia maybe coming into this series of matches riding a crest of a wave, the world No.3 side will need to be at their very best if they are to finish their year on a high.

FIXTURES

6 November – Scotland v Australia, BT Murrayfield – KO 2.15pm
13 November – England v Australia, Twickenham Stadium – KO 5.30pm
20 November – Wales v Australia, Principality Stadium – KO 5.30pm

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