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PARIS – Eddie Jones has picked a team that will not only beat Georgia, but beat it well. Ultimately, however, only victory counts.
He could have wrapped the fit-again Samu Kerevi in cotton wool, knowing full well the challenges ahead. Instead, he named the massive center that would compete against the Eastern Europeans.
Fabien Galthie failed to capitalize on the same opportunity with Jonathan Danty – the second most important player to Les Bleus’ hopes after Antoine Dupont – even though their only threat in Pool A on the opening night of the World Cup was the All Blacks.
He could have proceeded cautiously with Taniela Tupou and Angus Bell, knowing the duo were vital to their hopes of going deep in the tournament, despite James Slipper and Pone Fa’amausili close to returning to action.
Instead, Jones named all three men to start.
Jones did this because he recognized that now is the time to turn things around.
The Wallabies won’t and can’t win the World Cup on Saturday (2am Sunday) but it’s about taking a step forward.
Victory, whatever form it takes against the world’s 11th-ranked nation, will be all the Wallabies need to ease the anxiety brewing in Australia and indeed the team.
The Wallabies coach may have surprised many when he named Ben Donaldson at full-back, but as extraordinary as his selection seems, this is not just a moment of participation.
Jones chose Donaldson over Andrew Kellaway, who has the great misfortune of being dropped, for two reasons.
He knows the Randwick playmaker is completely convinced be Australian way to not only watch the game but also play it.
His heads-up rugby and the cross-field kick that set up Dylan Pietsch to score in the Blues’ quarter-final defeat were exactly the kind of play that would have impressed Jones.
He also chose Donaldson because he will help relieve pressure on Carter Gordon off the tee.
That doesn’t mean the Western Force-bound defender will continue to wear the number 15 jersey throughout the tournament, but his inclusion will, for now, allow Gordon to ease into the tournament without the burden of knowing he’s the only kicker is .
While Kellaway’s excellent support lines have been on display in recent months, Donaldson’s ability to both create and clear with his long foot will have impressed Jones.
Georgia are no longer just a team that relies on set pieces, but also strike frequently and counterattack through impressive full-back Davit Niniashvili.
Donaldson will be tasked with ensuring the Wallabies play their territory and strike when the moment comes. With Marika Koroibete and Mark Nawaqanitawase on the wings, Donaldson has two of the best wingers in the world to develop.
In reality, however, Saturday’s Test will be won and lost by the Wallabies front row.
There the Wallabies will succeed and fail.
If Tupou and Bell are in the mood, they can overrun Georgia with Will Skelton and Rob Valetini behind them.
Because of this forward dynamic, Jones wants his playmaker Tate McDermott to use their speed and attacking prowess to move their men, including Jordan Petaia, out onto the flanks.
If they do that, Georgia will not be able to cope with the Wallabies’ pace.
https://www.theroar.com.au/2023/09/08/comment-eddie-jones-has-taken-risks-by-naming-his-big-three-for-wallabies-opener-but-he-had-to/ Eddie Jones was right when he named the three big players for the Rugby World Cup opener against Georgia: Samu Kerevi and Taniela Tupou