Wallabies Rugby World Cup news, Australia team for 2023

If 2019 told Australian fans anything it is that the Wallabies have four years to settle on a new playmaker — and they need to use it wisely.

Leaving aside the failed plan of running the ball at all costs, the absence of a standout fly-half haunted the Wallabies’ bid to better their 2015 runners-up finish, as Michael Cheika mixed and matched his halves pairing over the final two years of his five-year tenure.

A culmination of poor form, inability to command the jersey and the return to health and availability of a number of playmakers contributed to a constant shuffling of the decks.

It led to a mad scramble in 2019 as the Wallabies’ three-person selection panel, with Cheika holding significant sway as head coach, searched for their best option.

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Three men to review Wallabies

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Ultimately, the Wallabies ran out of time and finished the tournament with more questions than answers.

The departures of Christian Lealiifano, Bernard Foley and Quade Cooper means that the Wallabies will have to go back to the drawing board with regards to their next No 10 in 2020, with Matt To’omua and even James O’Connor likely to compete for role.

But with the duo to be well into their 30s by the time the Wallabies head to France in 2023, ushering through the next wave of playmakers is a must for Cheika’s successor.

Bayley Kuenzle is one of a number of exciting young playmakers coming through Australia’s system.
Bayley Kuenzle is one of a number of exciting young playmakers coming through Australia’s system.Source: Getty Images

Encouragingly, however, there are a number of burgeoning playmakers coming through the system, with the likes of Issac Lucas, Ben Donaldson, Will Harrison and Brumbies duo Bayley Kuenzle and Reesjan Pasitoa exciting prospects.

The relative success of the Junior Wallabies, who were beaten by one point in the under-20s World Cup final, and the Australian Schoolboys’ seven-year drought breaking win over New Zealand across the ditch was the clearest indication yet that all hope is not lost.

But Australia’s Super Rugby sides and the Wallabies have a vitally significant role in identifying and then nurturing and fostering the young talent through to thrive on the international stage.

Coach hunting continues

Coach hunting continues

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The playmaking role is by no means the only position that the Wallabies must address moving forward.

It’s likely that the Wallabies’ four-year plan running into the World Cup will follow a similar path travelled to England’s under Eddie Jones.

In the first two years on the road to the 2019 World Cup, Jones largely stuck to the old brigade – and had huge success – before ushering through the next phase of his plan by bringing through the next generation such as Tom Curry, Sam Underhill, Henry Slade and Elliot Daly.

That path could well be replicated by the incoming and yet-to-be-named Wallabies coach.

For starters though, bringing Suntory-bound Samu Kerevi home remains a huge priority for Rugby Australia, as does Rory Arnold, who had a breakout season in 2019, from France.

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Centre Samu Kerevi (L) and flanker Michael Hooper were the Wallabies’ leaders at the World Cup.
Centre Samu Kerevi (L) and flanker Michael Hooper were the Wallabies’ leaders at the World Cup.Source: AFP

Rugby Australia’s impressive work to secure the services of a number of their props from the 2019 World Cup campaign on long-term deals should ensure that the front-row stocks remain strong.

The emergence of Harry Hoopert and Angus Bell will only bolster that depth.

In the back-five of the forward pack, Australian rugby could see the likes of Jack Dempsey and Pete Samu play important roles over the next two years alongside Michael Hooper before the next generation start to challenge for their spots.

In Rob Valetini, Harry Wilson, Liam Wright and Fraser McReight, the next Wallabies coach should have a crop of explosive and talented young back-rowers coming through.

Just whether Hooper, who is contracted with Rugby Australia until 2023, can make the next Cup will be intriguing.

He will only be 31 by the time the next World Cup rolls around.

But having already played 99 Tests, he will have to be managed well over the next cycle to ensure his speed and explosiveness remains.

Taniela Tupou in action during the Wallabies’ quarter-final loss to England.
Taniela Tupou in action during the Wallabies’ quarter-final loss to England.Source: Getty Images

Young Brumbies locks Darcy Swain and Nick Frost, as well as Reds men Harry Hockings and Angus Blyth will have Izack Rodda and Lukhan Salakaia-Loto on their toes.

In the backline, Queensland have a spine to get excited about.

Halfback Tate McDermott and utility back Issac Lucas are two players with skill and X-Factor written all over them in the same way that Springbok Cheslin Kolbe and All Black Damian McKenzie play.

Jordan Petaia announced himself on the world stage in Japan and should he stay fit will play an important role going forward.

Harry Wilson is a forward on the rise in Australian rugby.
Harry Wilson is a forward on the rise in Australian rugby.Source: Supplied

Out wide, Junior Wallabies stars Mark Nawaqanitsawase and Semisi Tupou are two players who will emerge in Super Rugby in 2020 and ones to watch.

Meanwhile, talented utility backs Jack Maddocks and Reece Hodge must step out of the shadows and realise their potential over the coming years.

Diving deep into the crystal ball, here is a possible 31-man Wallabies squad for the next World Cup in France.

Possible 2023 Wallabies team (15-1): Isaac Lucas, Jack Maddocks, Jordan Petaia, Samu Kerevi, Mark Nawaqanitsawase, Bayley Kuenzle, Tate McDermott, Harry Wilson, Michael Hooper, Rob Valetini, Harry Hockings, Izack Rodda, Taniela Tupou, Jordan Uelese, Harry Johnson-Holmes

Reserves: Lachlan Lonergan, Harry Hoopert, Allan Alaalatoa, Darcy Swain, Liam Wright, Jake Gordon, Ben Donaldson, Reece Hodge,

Squad members: Folau Fainga’a, Scott Sio, Nick Frost, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Fraser McReight, Matt To’omua, Semisi Tupou, Tom Banks

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