Day 24 at the Rugby World Cup: Australia chase win before typhoon hits Japan
The Wallabies will again field a much-changed side.
After the anticipated impact of Typhoon Hagibis dominated the World Cup headlines, match action resumes on Friday when Australia play Georgia in Fukuroi.
England’s showdown against France in Yokohama on Saturday has been cancelled, along with New Zealand’s clash with Italy in Toyota City, while Scotland face a wait to see if their key Pool A clash against the hosts will go ahead.
Here, the PA news agency wraps up Thursday’s key events in Japan and takes a look ahead to Friday’s only fixture.
Typhoon Hagibis has been described by the Japanese Meteorological Agency as “violent”, with the capacity to cause widespread destruction around the Tokyo region.
The extreme weather front is the size of Japan and shows no sign of deviating in its path or decreasing in magnitude, on course to hit the mainland in the early hours of Saturday.
Given the circumstances – and having already seen the impact of Typhoon Faxai ahead of the start of the tournament – the governing body maintain safety had to be the priority given the very real danger posed by the Category 5 super typhoon.
“As you can imagine the decision has not been taken lightly,” World Cup tournament director Alan Gilpin said.
New look Wallabies, again
After no match action on Thursday, focus will be back on the field when Australia tackle Georgia in their last Pool D fixture.
A place in the quarter-finals is already secure for the two-time world champions, but whether it will be as pool winners or runners-up – and a showdown with England – remains to be seen.
With Wales looking to take top spot by beating Uruguay on Sunday, the Wallabies can keep the pressure on with a strong display at the Shizuoka Stadium.
David Pocock is set to skipper the side in one of 10 changes by head coach Michael Cheika which will see Matt To’omua deployed as the Wallabies’ third different fly-half of the tournament.
Flanker Pocock, though, feels healthy competition will help drive the group onwards.
“As players you see it as an opportunity,” he said. “Someone may miss out, but someone gets an opportunity to play in a Wallabies jumper and stay there.”
Simmons set for century
Rob Simmons has replaced Adam Coleman in Australia’s number 19 jersey for the Georgia match, which will see the veteran second-rower reach 100 Test caps to become the 11th Wallabies centurion.
It marks a turnaround in fortunes for a player who just a couple of years ago was out of the Australia international fold and also found himself axed by the Queensland Reds.
The 30-year-old, though, has not been one to blow his own trumpet.
“In true ‘Simmo’ fashion he didn’t want anything made of it until after the game,” Pocock said.
“He’s a well-loved member of the team. It is pretty amazing to have someone like him on the bench, to be able to call on that experience, knowing he steps up when he is needed.”
All good things come to an end
Georgia coach Milton Haig knows they will be up against the odds in what is set to be his final match after eight years in charge.
The New Zealander, though, does not want to let sentiment get in the way as his squad aim to sign off with a World Cup upset.
“It’s not about whether it’s my last match or for even some of the players it’s going to be their last match probably for the Georgian team,” he said.
“That’s a huge motivator for us to do whatever we can to maximise our effort and try to win this match against Australia.”
Jones happy to go with the flow
Italy’s Sergio Parisse bemoaned the “ridiculous” decision to cancel their match against New Zealand in Toyota.
Meanwhile, thousands of fans have seen their own best laid plans scuppered by the forces of Mother Nature.
England head coach Eddie Jones, however, is not about to let the Super Typhoon Hagibis saga dampen spirits in the camp.
Having seen the squad’s arrival at Narita Airport disputed by the fall out from Typhoon Faxai, Jones will take things how they come.
“I think the Japanese have a saying: ‘shogun-hi’ – we can’t control it,” the former Brave Blossoms coach said as he prepared to take England off to Miyazaki for some warm weather training – and possibly the odd beer to help recharge the batteries.