Australia skipper Stephen Moore believes the competitive nature of the opening Rugby World Cup jousts have increased the anticipation for England’s Pool A rivals ahead of their tournament bow against Fiji at the Millennium Stadium.
The Wallabies can deal a huge blow to Fiji’s World Cup hopes with a second successive defeat after the Pacific Nations Cup champions were beaten 35-11 by Stuart Lancaster’s side in the tournament curtain-raiser at Twickenham on Friday.
Michael Cheika’s Australia are one of only four teams yet to feature in the competition, having endured a lengthy build-up at their Bath training base ahead of their maiden fixture.
“We’ve been training really hard for a number of weeks and there has been big competition for a number of spots,” said Moore.
“Every team has been competitive in this tournament. Everyone is talking about the Japan result [against South Africa], but Uruguay and Argentina have been really impressive and it shows just how much preparation has been put into this tournament.
“The combination of that, and sitting around watching footy all weekend, we are pretty keen to get out there now. We will be blowing pretty hard in that first-half, but we’ve trained as close as we can to get game intensity.”
Cheika has opted to select bot Michael Hooper and David Pocock – both specialist open-side flankers – to face Fiji, in a side that boasts 720 caps. Pocock will wear the No8 jersey.
“It’s pretty hard not to pick one of them. It sort of means you pick them both,” said Cheika. “I’m not trying to claim there is any brilliant rocket science behind it. You just have two very good players.”
Fiji flanker Dominiko Waqaniburotu is banned following his suspension for a tip-tackle on Jonny May and is replaced by Peceli Yato. Harlequins No8 Netani Talei also comes in for the Pacific Islanders.