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Rugby Union: What next for the Wallabies after dismal World Cup?

After crashing out in the pool stages of the 2023 World Cup, the inquisition as to what went wrong for Eddie Jones’ Australia is well and truly underway.

The Wallabies were almost handed a reprieve with Portugal’s famous 24-23 win over Fiji, but a losing bonus point saw the Pacific Islanders book their place in the quarter-finals to face England.

Heading back to Australia after a first-ever exit in a World Cup pool stage, the Wallabies must regroup and look at rectifying what went wrong in France.

Selection under question

Leaving the experienced Michael Hooper and Quade Cooper out was a big call by Jones and would always leave him vulnerable if things did not go according to plan in France.

Both players were expected to feature in what would have been their last World Cups and overlooking the pair was a glaring error.

Former skipper Hooper, while he has had his injury issues, would have brought experience to the pack and a competitive edge in the breakdown.

Australia lacked attacking flair and a kicking game to hurt the likes of Wales and Fiji in their pool.

Cooper would have brought that creativity, while his precision with the boot would have also given defences more to think about.

Jones wanted to bring the next generation of Australian players through and give them experience but was a World Cup really the time?

If the Wallabies did have ambitions of going far in this tournament, which they should have done given the kinder side of the draw they were in, then selecting experienced and quality veterans was the way to go.

So what next?

The future of Jones looks to be uncertain but the former England boss will be hoping he is given time to turn things around.

It will be a big ask, especially considering the strength of New Zealand and South Africa ahead of the Rugby Championship next year.

Questions remain as to who will be Australia’s starting No.10 going forward. Carter Gordon was given the reins at the start of the World Cup but was replaced by Ben Donaldson for the 40-6 defeat at the hands of Wales.

There are also questions at the crucial scrum-half position, with Tate McDermott seemingly the long-term replacement for 33-year-old Nic White.

Getting those halfback positions settled will be important for this Wallabies side going forward, as there is no doubt there is quality further down the backline.

Winger Mark Nawaqanitawase had a strong tournament, while Australia will be looking for someone to fill the void set to be left by Marika Koroibete.

The 31-year-old looks set to retire from Test rugby in what has been a disappointing end for such a talented player at international level.

The dust is still settling on what has been a disappointing World Cup for Australia and it will be interesting to see who in the Wallabies camp survives the fallout.

The focus has already switched to the 2027 tournament with Australia the hosts. 

Progress will need to have been made to catch up to the likes of Ireland, France, New Zealand and South Africa at the top of the international game.

France are 4.00 to win the 2023 World Cup, with Ireland 4.00, New Zealand at 4.50 and South Africa also 4.50 to lift the Webb Ellis Cup.  

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