Results couldn’t have gone much worse for Australia to conclude their 2014 international rugby calendar.
The Wallabies lost six of their final seven matches between September and November, with their sole moment of satisfaction coming in a 33-28 triumph over Wales at the Millennium Stadium.
That victory was significant as it was the first Test in which Michael Cheika was in the stands as head coach, having been named following the unexpected resignation of Ewan McKenzie.
His CV was already fairly impressive, coaching Leinster to a first European trophy when lifting the 2009 Heineken Cup and New South Wales Waratahs to a maiden Super Rugby title in just his second season at the helm.
Completely turning around Australia’s fortunes at the end of 2014 was going to be difficult despite the victory over Wales, as defeats to France, Ireland and England followed.
However, now that he has had some suitable time in the coaching position to bring in his own staff, settle on his own regular batch of players and begin to get his ideas across, Australia are suddenly looking dangerous again.
Little serious rugby has been played in World Cup year, but Australia have gained promising results at the ongoing Rugby Championship, which pits them against South Africa, Argentina and New Zealand annually.
Victories have been secured against the first pair, with the big one against World Cup favourites New Zealand taking place in Sydney on August 8th.
The Aussies have only triumphed in one of the last 13 instalments of the tournament and have failed to register a single victory against New Zealand in virtually four years, since late August 2011, which is a run of 10 showdowns and includes two draws.
But with improvement noted under the guidance of Cheika and the possibility of David Pocock and Michael Hooper starting together at numbers seven and eight despite both being openside flankers, a victory is far from off the cards.
Should Australia beat their rivals, their odds of 9/1 to win the Rugby World Cup must shorten, even though they are in a group of death alongside England, Wales and Fiji.
Meanwhile, if the All Blacks defeat Australia again, this is unlikely to change their World Cup price.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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