'I'll be wearing a Portugal shirt': Wallabies to start prepping for England quarterfinal
SPOTLIGHT: Before the World Cup in France got underway rugby fans were licking their lips at the prospect of polarising coach Eddie Jones lining up for a quarterfinal clash against his former team England.
Another prospect loomed, with the Jones-coached Wallabies squaring off in the final eight against former Australia coach Michael Cheika, who now oversees Argentina.
While Australia are still preparing to take on Pool D winners England in Marseille on Sunday, October 15, the sad reality is Fiji are heavily favoured to finish runner-up in Pool C and send the Wallabies packing.
The Australians are in limbo this week; their slim hopes hanging on minnows Portugal denying Fiji a single competition point in their final pool clash on Sunday.
But if a miracle happens, the Wallabies need to be ready.
“We will have three days to freshen up and then we come back in to prepare for a quarterfinal,” said assistant coach Dan Palmer.
“It’s out of our hands now but that’s all we can do. We’ll come back in and train hard.”
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Asked if the preparations would be England-specific, Palmer said they would be.
After weeks of intense training, squirrelled away at a small resort outside Saint-Etienne, the players let their hair down for a night following the 34-14 win over Portugal that kept their Cup campaign alive.
They will get back into action on Thursday and then pray for the Portuguese to cause a boilover against Fiji, who scraped to a win over Georgia in their last outing.
Wallabies No.8 Rob Valetini said he would be ready to root for the men in red.
“I’ve actually swapped jerseys, so I’ll probably be wearing that,” Valetini said.
“I reckon they can beat Fiji. They’re quite a skilful team and on their day they can beat anyone. They’d have to believe that they can do it.”
Lock Richie Arnold said he would be also cheering for Os Lobos, who proved a handful in attack against Australia, scoring two tries and having two further efforts disallowed.
“We’ll have a couple of days off and the group will go away and have a bit of down-time, refresh and come back in and train Thursday, Friday, Saturday for potentially a quarterfinal,” Arnold said.
“There are results that need to go our way. I will be wearing a Portugal shirt that’s for sure next Sunday.
“Portugal have a lot of fight. They have a good attacking team. It’s not over until it’s over. We still have a chance there mathematically.”