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Pocock starts alongside Hooper in Wallabies' World Cup opener

By AFP
media David Pocock is the only change from the Wallaby side that stunned New Zealand last month AFP

David Pocock will start alongside Australia captain Michael Hooper in the Wallabies' back-row for their World Cup opener against Fiji in Sapporo on Saturday.

The starting XV announced by coach Michael Cheika on Thursday is almost the same that inflicted a record 47-26 Bledisloe Cup defeat on world champions New Zealand in Perth last month, with the inclusion of flanker Pocock -- who has been struggling with a calf injury and will retire after the World Cup -- the only change.

Meanwhile lock Rory Arnold has overcome a hand injury that ruled him out of the second Bledisloe Cup clash in Auckland, which New Zealand won 36-0, while Nic White and Christian Lealiifano return at half-backs after sitting out the Test against Samoa earlier this month.

The starting side have 600 caps between them, with the Wallabies having been told by Rugby Australia chief executive Raelene Castle that it will be a failure if they don't at least match their finish at the 2015 World Cup in England, where they lost in the final to New Zealand.

"Our goal is to win," said Cheika at the squad's Sapporo hotel on Thursday.

"I'm sure every team comes to every World Cup believing they can win, and that's what makes it such a great tournament.

Australia also faced Fiji in their 2015 World Cup opener, winning 28-13 in Cardiff.

The Wallabies face Wales in their second Pool D clash in Tokyo on September 29 before games against Uruguay and Georgia in Oita and Shizuoka on October 5 and October 11, respectively.

Australia team announced Thursday to play Fiji in a World Cup Pool D match in Sapporo on Saturday:

Australia (15-1)

Kurtley Beale; Reece Hodge, James O'Connor, Samu Kerevi, Marika Koroibete; Christian Lealiifano, Nic White; Isi Naisarani, Michael Hooper (capt), David Pocock; Rory Arnold, Izack Rodda; Allan Alaalatoa; Tolu Latu, Scott Sio

Replacements: Jordan Uelese, James Slipper, Sekope Kepu, Adam Coleman, Lukhan Salakaia-Loto, Will Genia, Matt To'omua, Dane Haylett-Petty

 
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