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Australia v Georgia - Teams and Prediction

PREVIEW: Australian forward packs have previously relied on a combination of brains and brawn to get the better of their beefy rugby rivals, but not any more.

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Coach Eddie Jones said the heavyweight Wallabies now had a forward pack capable of dominating the World Cup.

Boasting the likes of prop Taniela Tupou and lock Will Skelton, who both weigh around 135kg, plus Angus Bell, Richie Arnold, Tom Hooper and Rob Valetini who are about the 120kg mark, it’s the biggest Australian pack assembled for a World Cup.

Jones said it changes the way the Wallabies can play, starting with forward specialists Georgia in their first pool game in Paris on Saturday.

“I never would have dreamt of coming to a press conference as a coach of Australia saying we’ve got a huge pack that could dominate the World Cup,” he said.

“We have and we intend to use that to our advantage.

“We’ve got a really big, strong, fast pack that’s ready to take on the opposition and that starts with Georgia.”

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The preview continues below…

Jones was excited by the platform the forwards could lay for Australia’s exciting backs.

“You get this almost like roller ball-type play and then you get an opportunity with your backs to take advantage of it,” Jones said.

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“[Samu] Kerevi coming back gives us another big running threat out wider, [Jordan] Petaia is starting to find his feet.

“We’re blessed with three great wings, two will start and one off the bench that can win anything in the air.

“We look like a team that can score from a number of different places and a number of different sources.”

Skipper Skelton has dropped around eight kilograms in the past three months to add more mobility to his game while No.8 Valetini said he was fighting fit.

“I don’t think we’ve ever trained as hard as we have,” Valetini said.

“We’ve been up to Darwin and done a couple of days up there and it was scorching and the past two weeks we’ve had here and in Saint-Etienne as well and we’ve been getting flogged out there so we’ve been doing all the hard yards.

“I think, as a team, our connection has grown through all the hard work that we’ve been doing which has been good for us.

“I feel like a lot of boys are in good nick and I feel like I’m probably in the best shape I’ve ever been in, so I’m keen to go out there hopefully put in a good job for the boys and people can see the connection we’ve built and the hard work we’ve been doing.”

Meanwhile, Georgia head coach Levan Maisashvili believes his team has what it takes to give Australia a few problems.

“We are well prepared, especially for this game. We will try to show everything we have worked on,” said Maisashvili.

“In front of us are a team who are quite a strong opponent with their composition and their coaching staff. We consider everything and are ready to play against such a team.

“Our team are now in a state where confidence is quite high. It is more important what we do, not who is standing in front of us.”

Captain Merab Sharikadze added: “The preparation went well, we worked a lot and I hope it will give us results. As for Australia, they are a very strong team with some very strong players who are stars, but on Saturday we go into this game with the same confidence as we did last year when we played and won against top countries.”

Prediction

@rugby365com: Australia by 18 points.

Teams:

Australia: 15 Ben Donaldson, 14 Mark Nawaqanitawase, 13 Jordan Petaia, 12 Samu Kerevi, 11 Marika Koroibete, 10 Carter Gordon, 9 Tate McDermott, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Fraser McReight, 6 Tom Hooper, 5 Will Skelton (captain), 4 Richie Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 David Porecki, 1 Angus Bell.
Replacements: 16 Matt Faessler, 17 Blake Schoupp, 18 Zane Nonggorr, 19 Rob Leota, 20 Langi Gleeson, 21 Nic White, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Suliasi Vunivalu.

Georgia: 15 Davit Niniashvili, 14 Akaki Tabutsadze, 13 Demur Tapladze, 12 Merab Sharikadze (captain), 11 Miriani Modebadze, 10 Luka Matkava, 9 Vasil Lobzhanidze, 8 Beka Gorgadze, 7 Luka Ivanishvili, 6 Tornike Jalagonia, 5 Konstantine Mikautadze, 4 Nodar Cheishvili, 3 Guram Papidze, 2 Shalva Mamukashvili, 1 Nika Abuladze
Replacements: 16 Tengizi Zamtaradze, 17 Guram Gogichashvili, 18 Beka Gigashvili, 19 Lasha Jaiani, 20 Giorgi Tsutskiridze, 21 Gela Aprasidze, 22 Tedo Abzhandadze, 23 Giorgi Kveseladze

Date: Saturday, September 9
Venue: Stade de France, Saint-Denis
Kick-off: 18.00 (16.00 GMT; 20.00 GET; 02.00 Sunday, September 10 AEST)
Referee: Luke Pearce (England)
Assistant Referees: James Doleman (New Zealand), Craig Evans (Wales)
TMO: Brian MacNeice (Ireland)

Additional reporting: @WorldRugby

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