Australia have been a shadow of the nation that won two Rugby World Cups in the 1990s, but Eddie Jones is adamant the Wallabies are on their way back and can contend for the top prize in France.
Richie Arnold (Toulouse), Matt Faessler (Reds), Nick Frost (Brumbies), Tom Hooper (Brumbies), Rob Leota (Rebels), Fraser McReight (Reeds), Zane Nonggorr (Reds), David Porecki (Waratahs), Will Skelton (La Rochelle), James Slipper (Brumbies), Taniela Tupou (Reds), Jordan Uelese (Rebels), Rob Valetini (Brumbies), Angus Bell (Waratahs), Pone Fa'amausili (Rebels), Blake Schoupp (Brumbies), Matt Philip (Rebels), Langi Gleeson (Waratahs).
Issak Fines-Leleiwasa (Force), Lalakai Foketi (Waratahs), Carter Gordon (Rebels), Marika Koroibete (Saitama Wild Knights), Tate McDermott (Reds), Mark Nawaqanitawase (Waratahs), Izaia Perese (Waratahs), Suliasi Vunivalu (Reds), Nic White (Brumbies), Ben Donaldson (Waratahs), Samu Kerevi (Urayasu D-Rocks), Jordan Petaia (Reds), Max Jorgensen (Waratahs), Andrew Kellaway (Rebels).
Eddie Jones is back for a second spell in charge of Australia having had a successful four-year tenure between 2001 and 2005 when he guided the Wallabies to the 2001 Tri-Nations, a pair of Bledisloe Cups and the Rugby World Cup final in 2003.
A home World Cup final was as good as it got in the competition during Jones’ maiden stint, a Jonny Wilkinson drop goal famously denying the Aussies a storybook ending, and less than two years later, Jones was gone.
Jones bounced around roles before taking on Japan and is credited with taking the Brave Blossoms to a whole new level, culminating in a strong showing at the 2015 Rugby World Cup, where the Asian nation stunned South Africa in the pool stages.
Jones landed the England job off the back of his excellent work with Japan and initially enjoyed great success, winning back-to-back Six Nations and being named World Rugby Coach of the Year in 2017.
In 2019, he took England to the World Cup final, upsetting New Zealand along the way, only for South Africa to outmuscle the Red Rose in the final.
England would bounce back to win the 2020 Six Nations before Jones, who had consistently stated his aim to build a team capable of winning the 2023 World Cup, was sacked in 2022.
Australia snapped up Jones in January, dropping Dave Rennie in favour of the 63-year-old, but his return hasn’t gone to plan so far with the Wallabies losing his first four matches.
15. Andrew Kellaway
14. Mark Nawaqanitawase
13. Jordan Petaia
12. Samu Kerevi
11. Marika Koroibete
10. Carter Gordon
9. Nic White
8. Rob Valetini
7. Fraser McReight
6. Tom Hooper
5. Will Skelton
4. Nick Frost
3. Taniela Tupou
2. Dave Porecki
1. Angus Bell
Jones has tried to usher in a more high-tempo, power style in a short space of time and there are signs of progress, particularly when Australia get the ball wide to Mark Nawaqanitawase and Marika Koroibete.
Nawaqanitawase is a huge presence on the wing, quite literally at 6ft 4in, but glides across the turf, while Rugby League convert Koroibete is regarded amongst rugby’s elite wingers.
Samu Kerevi is another dynamic element amongst an exciting bunch of Australian backs that could thrive, with Kerevi tough to stop when he gets going.
Australia’s set piece remains a big concern with a lack of grunt in the scrum and the worst line-out success rate in international rugby last year.
A lack of strength in depth and experience amongst the pack is another worry, with Michael Hooper a major doubt for the tournament due to a calf issue.
Jones has also failed to settle on a half-back combination that’s worked, with old hands Quade Cooper and Nic White struggling during the Rugby Championship.
A serial tryscorer that has developed into one of the world’s top wingers since swapping codes in 2016.
His athleticism and pace make him a game-breaking talent, and he’s not afraid to do the dirty work either, often showing his physical prowess in the defensive side of the game.
Australia aren’t blessed with many world-class props so the saga of Tupou’s health has been one of the main storylines in the build-up to the World Cup.
Tupou’s freakish strength has been well documented, earning him the nickname of the Tongan Thor, but he possesses good fundamental skills too, showing decent hands when asked to truck the ball up for Australia.
The worry over Michael Hooper’s fitness has been slightly alleviated by the arrival on the international scene of another outstanding flanker named Hooper.
Brumbies ace Tom Hooper has shone in the recent Bledisloe Cup games against New Zealand, bulldozing his way through the All Blacks defence to score his first try for Australia in an eye-opening performance.
Carter Gordon also performed well against New Zealand in the build-up to France 2023 and the hope is he will provide the answer to Australia’s long-running No.10 quandary.
Gordon’s stats for the Rebels in Super Rugby this season stack up against some of the world’s best fly-halves and his relentless attacking mindset, coupled with his eye for the tryline, could see him light up the World Cup for the Wallabies.
All odds correct at time of publishing and subject to change.