Rugby World Cup
Rugby World Cup preview - Australia vs. Fiji - Weary Fijians could prove cannon fodder
Sam Bruce
September 22, 2015
Australia v Fiji Preview

After sitting out the opening weekend of action, Australia commence their campaign against Fiji at Cardiff's Millennium Stadium. The two-time World Cup champions have largely been staying out of the limelight tucked away down at their Bath base, but they will be desperate to hit the ground running after England and Wales both came away with bonus-point wins first-up.

That too will be the goal for the Wallabies while Fiji must regroup after a physical encounter with England last Friday. The Pacific Islanders took it to the tournament hosts for 60 minutes, dominating the breakdown and pressuring at scrum time, but failed to transfer that control into points. Winger Nemani Nadolo was brilliant but he needs greater help if Fiji are to register another World Cup boilover.

Team news

Wallabies coach Michael Cheika has made wholesale changes to the side that defeated the United States in Chicago, a match Will Genia can credit with his start in Cardiff. Genia is joined in the backs by fly-half Bernard Foley while Matt Giteau has got the nod at inside-centre; Rob Horne has beaten out Drew Mitchell for the left wing spot. Meanwhile up front, Cheika has reformed the David Pocock-Michael Hooper combination that was so successful in Bledisloe I while Kane Douglas has completed a remarkable return to partner Rob Simmons in the second-row.

For Fiji, coach John McKee has kept faith with much of the side that pushed England but there are four changes, one of which was forced through the one-week suspension handed to Dominiko Waqaniburotu. The flanker is replaced by Peceli Yato while hooker Sunia Koto, lock Api Ratuniyarawa and No.8 Sakiusa Matadigo have made way for Talemaitoga Tuapati, Tevita Cavubati and Netani Talei respectively.

David Pocock will team up with Michael Hooper to take on Fiji © Getty Images


Israel Folau, Rob Horne, Tevita Kuridrani, Matt Giteau, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Bernard Foley, Will Genia; David Pocock, Michael Hooper, Scott Fardy, Rob Simmons, Kane Douglas, Sekope Kepu, Stephen Moore, Scott Sio.

Replacements: James Slipper, Greg Holmes, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Will Skelton, Dean Mumm, Nick Phipps, Matt Toomua, Kurtley Beale.


Metuisela Talebula, Waisea Nayacalevu, Vereniki Goneva, Gabiriele Lovobalavu, Nemani Nadolo, Ben Volavola, Nikola Matawalu; Netani Talei, Akapusi Qera, Peceli Yato, Leone Nakarawa, Tevita Cavubati, Manasa Saulo, Talemaitoga Tuapati, Campese Ma'afu.

Replacements: Viliame Veikoso, Peni Ravai, Isei Colati, Nemia Soqeta, Malakai Ravulo, Nemia Kenatale, Joshua Matavesi, Asaeli Tikoirotuma.

Fiji will be hoping for a better result against Australia © AFP/Getty Images

Key head-to-head battle

Much has been made of the twin breakdown threat that comes with the Pocock-Hooper combination, even if they have only started one game together thus far. The powerbase Pocock can establish makes him an almost immovable object if he has time to set and thus both Netani Talei and skipper Akapusi Oera will need to be right on their game. That was certainly the case for the Fiji duo against England but both Pocock and Hooper offer far more of a turnover threat than the likes of Chris Robshaw and Tom Wood. If the Wallabies duo can dominate the tackle it could prove a long night for the Pacific Islanders in Cardiff.

Key stats

*It's been five years since the Wallabies last battled Fiji; the Australians triumphed 49-3 in Canberra on that occasion

*Fiji's key strike weapon, Nemani Nadolo, is coming off a successful year against the Australian sides in Super Rugby; he scored five tries in three matches

*Fiji boast two victories over the Wallabies but they haven't beaten the Australians since 1954 and have conceded an average of 52.25 points in their last four encounters


Unibet have been slightly more cautious in installing Australia as overwhelming favourites after Fiji tested England at Twickenham. The Wallabies are still almost unbackable at 1/34 while the Pacific Islanders are at 11/1 as opposed to the 15/1 they were given against England.


Not that it makes much difference under the Millennium Stadium roof, but conditions for Cardiff on Wednesday afternoon are set to be breezy with patchy rain increasing in the evening.


Fiji were gallant in defeat against England last Friday but it's a huge ask to back up and battle another of the game's heavyweights just five days later. The Wallabies are fresh and anything other than a bonus-point win will be deemed a failure. It's Australia by 27 in Cardiff.

© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Live Sports

Communication error please reload the page.