Wallabies great Stephen Larkham has labelled the current Australian side as better than the star-studded 1999 Rugby World Cup winners.
Attack coach Larkham, one of the heroes of the team that beat France in the decider in Cardiff 16 years ago, believes Michael Cheika’s World Cup finalists are at a similar stage to where Rod Macqueen’s side were – but more primed for success.
He’s also confident this Wallabies side are good enough to stun the world champion All Blacks in Saturday’s Twickenham final especially if they replicate their semi-final effort against Argentina.
“I think this journey is fairly similar,” said Larkham, who was also part of the 2003 side that lost in the final to England in Sydney.
“We’ve had an accelerated little growth together, whereas in 1999 and 2003 we had two years of preparation.
“I’d say these boys are at the stage we were at in particularly 1999 and 2003.
“But this present side are the best of the three.”
Larkham’s attacking charges have played an integral role in helping the team chalk up 26 tries in the competition so far with Adam Ashley-Cooper bagging a hat-trick in the 29-15 win over the Pumas.
But the former playmaker, who wore the gold jersey 102 times in a glittering career that took in four World Cups, said the team produced their most complete display to beat an Argentina side that had destroyed Six Nations champions Ireland in their last-eight clash.
“We’ve had our highs and our lows in terms of defence and attack,” he said.
“What has pleased me is the manner in which the guys succeeded in mixing both up last weekend.
“I don’t want to focus just on my speciality but to assure myself that the overall performance of the team will be good.
“And I thought it was good. There were very long sequences where we had the ball in hand.
“(There was) one of four minutes and 30 seconds which is the longest since I have been involved.
“The guys managed that really well.”