Improved depth and discipline will make the Wallabies strong contenders at this year’s Rugby World Cup, says All Blacks great Sean Fitzpatrick.
Australia haven’t won the tournament since 1999, they have slipped to No.6 in the world rankings and they have by far the toughest pool at the World Cup, joining England and Wales.
Little is going Australia’s way midway through the Super Rugby season either, with only two teams of the country’s five teams – the Brumbies and NSW Wararaths – a realistic chance of reaching the finals.
But former New Zealand captain Fitzpatrick reckons the Wallabies have never enjoyed such strength in numbers and, with the arrival of coach Michael Cheika late last year, could be dangerous come September.
“For me, you’d never write the Australians off,” Fitzpatrick told AAP ahead of the Laureus Worlds Sports Awards in Shanghai.
“They always seem to get it right at World Cup time, they’re always very competitive.
“I think Cheika’s been good for them.
“He had a pretty good (Europe) tour and I think it’s about putting a bit of discipline back into rugby – he seems to do that pretty well.
“In general, I think the depth – especially in the backs – is very good, and your forwards are very competitive.
“That’s probably something Australia’s got now, depth in numbers that they potentially haven’t had in the past.”