Eddie Jones might be under unbearable pressure, but the Wallabies coach is sticking to his guns, judging by his stunning new Rugby World Cup squad.
Following historic defeats to Fiji and Wales, the Australians are only the tiniest of mathematical chances of avoiding becoming the first Aussie side ever to fail to get out of the World Cup group stage.
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The Wallabies need to beat Portugal handily on Monday morning AEST and hope Fiji lose at least one of their two remaining fixtures, which looks hugely unlikely based on form.
And Jones has responded by axing two of his biggest names to take on the Portuguese, centres Samu Kerevi and Jordan Petaia.
They haven’t just been dropped to the bench from the starting side, the duo has been culled from the 23-man squad completely.
Replacing them in the starting team are Waratahs pair Lalakai Foketi and Izaia Perese.
“This is an important game for this young team to attack from the first minute to the 80th,” Jones said in announcing his latest line-up.
“We need to empty the tank. We have a responsibility to put in a performance that makes supporters proud … those that have travelled to France and at home in Australia.”
It is a sad fact that social media is conspicuously quiet about this development, in keeping with the low-key response to the entire tournament in Australia.
But there has still been some key reaction.
Rugby journalist Tom Decent, who is in France at the tournament, didn’t hold back when he dropped the Australian squad on social media platform X.
“Wallabies team to play Portugal,” Decent writes in a post.
“Samu Kerevi dropped. Wallabies saying he’s not injured. Didn’t have that on the bingo card either. Unthinkable two months ago.
“Jordan Petaia out of 23 as well.“
Jones’ efforts so far in his second time at the helm of the Wallabies have been an abject disaster.
The 63-year-old has just one, lonely victory to his name this year, the opening World Cup victory over lowly Georgia.
While he insists he is the right man for the job and is undertaking a badly-needed rebuild, calls for his head are getting louder.
One social media user made his feelings clear responding to this Wallabies’ squad.
“Surely, the most pathetic, green nobodies EVER on the reserve bench,” wrote Eric Taylor.
“Call the Medics for Eddie Jones and don’t forget the strait-jacket.”
In slightly brighter news, prop James Slipper will set a new record for the most World Cup matches by an Australian, with this game to be his 21st over four tournaments, one more than former skipper George Gregan.
The Wallabies bench includes halfback Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, who comes into the 23 at the expense of Nic White.
– With NCA Newswire