With World Cup starting spots against England and Wales up for grabs and players licking their lips at the prospect of thrashing a minnow nation, Wallabies assistant coach Stephen Larkham is urging caution.
The Wallabies are expected to run riot over Uruguay, the world No.19, at Villa Park on Sunday – giving a star-studded backline a chance to fill their boots and apply pressure to the starters who failed to fire against Fiji mid-week.
Larkham admitted there were several spots still open – notably in the halves and inside centre – and insisted coach Michael Cheika wouldn’t be penciling in any first-choice combinations until he saw how things panned out in Birmingham.
But that comes with its own problems and he stressed players would be unwise to get carried away and overplay their hands in the second Pool A fixture.
“We’ve certainly spoken about that and making sure we start the game with the plays we want to use,” the backs coach said.
“Then the leaders of the team need to get a feel for it when they’re out on the field and make a decision as to whether we open up a little more or continue with a disciplined game.
“The guys who played (against Fiji) probably have a foot in the door in terms of selection.
“But we reviewed that game and were keen to see how the boys play against Uruguay before we make a decision on who we go with for England.
“(Backs) Quade (Cooper), Nick (Phipps) and Matt (Toomua) have all played for Australia before so we know they can do the job.”
Despite having the bright lights of Twickenham and a chance at tournament hosts England just a week away, Larkham said it hadn’t been difficult for players to maintain their focus on lowly Uruguay.
“It’s pretty easy for these guys because they didn’t get a chance against Fiji,” he said.
“This is their chance, they’re pretty switched on and they want to get out there.
“Like (winger) Drew (Mitchell) said during the week, this is our opportunity.”
Lock Kane Douglas is expecting a physical contest – in much the same way Australia were roughed up by a passionate Fijian side in Cardiff.
But getting drawn into a dogfight is not on the agenda.
“They’ll be physical and fight and work hard,” he said.
“Teams can fall down if they get into a dogfight so were worrying about ourselves.”
Kurtley Beale, Joe Tomane, Henry Speight, Matt Toomua, Drew Mitchell, Quade Cooper, Nick Phipps, Wycliff Palu, Sean McMahon, Ben McCalman, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm (capt), Toby Smith, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Scott Sio. Res: Stephen Moore, Sekope Kepu, Greg Holmes, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Will Genia, Bernard Foley, Tevita Kuridrani.
Gaston Mieres, Leandro Leivas, Joaquin Prada, Andres Vilaseca, Rodrigo Silva, Felipe Barchesi, Agustin Ormaechea, Juan Manuel Gaminara, Matias Beer, Juan de Freitas, Franco Lamanna, Sanitago Vilaseca (capt), Mario Sagario, German Kessler, Mateo Sanguinetti. Res: Nicolas Klappenbach, Oscar Duran, Carlos Arboleya, Alejandro Nieto, Diego Magno, Fernando Bascou, Alejo Duran, Alberto Roman.