Wallabies desperate to bring back Bill

Australia are primed and ready to embark on their quadrennial rugby union mission: bring back Bill.

The Wallabies will have keen eyes on Twickenham on Friday (Saturday AEST) when their Pool A rivals England and Fiji kick off the Rugby World Cup, as it will spark their own challenge to win rugby’s greatest prize, the William Webb Ellis Cup, for the first time since 1999.

To do so Michael Cheika’s men will need to first escape the `Pool of Death’ – ideally in top spot, so as to avoid a likely quarter-final showdown with South Africa, while putting off a showdown with their Anzac rivals, the All Blacks, until the final.

With only the top two from each group progressing to the knock-out stages, and Australia’s Pool A also featuring hosts England and Wales, and dark horse Fiji, it ensures one of world rugby’s traditional heavyweights will not reach the quarter-finals.

And while it sounds like an ominous task, success would set the Wallabies up for huge reward later in the tournament.

Barring significant upsets, the Pool A winner would go on to face either Samoa or Scotland in the quarter-finals and France, Ireland or Argentina in the semis – rather than their bigger southern hemisphere rivals New Zealand or South Africa.

Maligned playmaker Quade Cooper endured a torturous campaign in New Zealand four years ago, which started with him carrying the hopes of a nation into the tournament but saw him become weary from an extraordinary hate campaign from local fans and media before finishing the event with a serious knee injury.

He insists he won’t take a second for granted this time around – and has identified the key going the distance as playing every match as if it is a grand final.

Because from one slip-up, once it’s gone … it’s gone for good.

For Australia, their first of many tests comes in the form of Fiji in Cardiff on Wednesday (Thursday morning AEST).

“Every week is a grand final. You can’t afford to slip-up at all throughout this tournament,” Cooper said.

“You’ve got to play your best every week, you’ve got to train your best every session.

“I’m more on edge understanding that I’ve got to stay focused every day, whether it’s a day off (or not) you stay focused, stay with that goal in my mind.

“It’s only six-to-eight weeks, that’s all you have to do is focus as hard as possible for that.

“Once that opportunity is gone, you’re never going to get it back.

“Although we’re at another World Cup, that opportunity to get New Zealand back … you cant get it.

“It’s already etched into the history books as `New Zealand – the 2011 World Cup champions’.

“If I can do anything to make sure our name is etched into the 2015 World Cup, then I’ll do that.

“I’m going to leave no stone unturned.”

As ever, the All Blacks stand as the major hurdle for every nation at this year’s tournament, having been made the bookmakers favourites just ahead of hosts England.

However, the perception remains about the defending champions and world No.1 that they haven’t won a World Cup away from home.

Australia, on the other hand, have two World Cup trophies won on UK soil – in London in 1991 and Cardiff in 1999.

Also working against the All Blacks is the record that no team has ever won back-to-back trophies.

“It is a beast of a thing to try and win,” says champion All Blacks winger Jonah Lomu.

“It is one of the most difficult things to win back-to-back and no one has ever done it.”

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