Sonny Bill Williams explains why Eddie Jones’ under-fire Wallabies can defy the odds and win the Rugby World Cup: ‘If you understand rugby, it’s not doom and gloom’
- Sonny Bill Williams has backed Australia to win the Rugby World Cup
- The Wallabies are in a horrendous run of form heading into the tournament
- But Williams insists Eddie Jones will surprise his doubters in France
- Latest Rugby World Cup 2023 news, including fixtures, live scores and results
Eddie Jones may be in the midst of a terrible start to life with the Wallabies, but Sonny Bill Williams believes the wily coach will spring a shock at the Rugby World Cup.
Jones, 58, returned to Australia earlier this year following his England sacking, and has been tasked with transforming the fortunes of the sport Down Under, with interest in union waning.
However, he’s struggled to hit the ground running on his return, losing all four of his matches in charge of the team. Understandably, expectations of the Wallabies are low heading into the tournament in France.
But Williams, who will be on punditry duty with Stan Sport during the competition, insists Australia can go all the way and win the tournament.
‘They can win the World Cup,’ Williams told the Sydney Morning Herald.
Eddie Jones has been backed to spring a shock on his critics at the Rugby World Cup
Jones is winless from his first four games in charge of the Wallabies since his return
‘They’re so close. People forget how good this Australian team is. All you have to do is look at the history. Australia is the third-ranked team in the history of rugby. They’ve won two World Cups.
‘They have beaten South Africa twice [in 2021] when they were the best team in the world. Australia wins that game in Melbourne [against New Zealand last year] if they take that penalty. In Dunedin [last month], Quade [Cooper] levelled scores with a few minutes to go.
‘The picture that is painted is doom and gloom. If you understand rugby, it’s not doom and gloom. This is one of the greatest rugby nations on earth. The rugby public and the Australian public should get behind this team because it’s not far off.’
Jones has placed his faith in youth, with one eye on the 2027 World Cup in Australia, but history dictates that experienced teams typically go far in the tournament.
Australia has the youngest team at the tournament, with an average age of 26.5, while reigning champions South Africa have an average age of 30.4.
The Wallabies face a tricky pool, where they will take on Georgia, Fiji, Wales and Portugal, but former All Blacks star Williams believes they will go on to the latter stages.
But Sonny Bill WIlliams is adamant that Australia can win the tournament in France
‘I think Australia will definitely get through to the quarters, they should win that and get through to the semis,’ Williams said.
‘I’m basing it off the pool they have. They have probably got the easiest pool in the competition but with the adversity they have gone through – for example an assistant coach walking out a week before the competition starts – they’ve still got a bloody good side and some world-class operators within that squad, like Will Skelton, Taniela Tupou, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase.
‘They have a draw which will suit them perfectly because they are a young side. To bear the fruits at the end of the tournament, they need to build that confidence. If they can look after their discipline, be defensively sound and [No.10] Carter Gordon leads the way, they’ll surprise a few.’
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