BEEN THERE: John Connolly.
BEEN THERE: John Connolly.

Wallabies use the Coast to kickstart cup campaign

WILL Israel Folau start in his favoured fullback position or will we see him thrown into the centres?

Will Quade Cooper or Bernard Foley get the nod for flyhalf? Will Wallabies coach Michael Cheika opt for the enthusiasm of youth over experience?

These are just some of the big questions looming over the Wallabies as they begin their pool-of-death World Cup preparation on the Sunshine Coast today.

Sunshine Coast Stadium will play host to the Wallabies' training sessions ahead of their round one Rugby Championship Test against the Springboks in Brisbane later this month.

According to former Wallabies coach John Connolly, selection issues are a positive dilemma for Cheika to have on the road to Twickenham.

"They're not the favourites, but what they do have is quite a bit of depth," he said.

The Wallabies will have six Tests to start clicking, and will need them as the southern hemisphere teams have a shorter preparation time due to the Super 15 season.

"Northern hemisphere teams spend more time together, so we've seen teams like France performing well over many years," Connolly said.

"So gelling 40 players together over six Tests, it's an important step in our World Cup build-up.

"They'll be looking for those stars and hopefully they'll emerge."

Connolly said despite the Waratahs experimenting with Folau in midfield this season, he expected Folau to start in his natural position of fullback.

"He is the only Super 15 fullback in the squad with James O'Connor being left out," he said.

O'CONNOR'S omission might have come as a surprise to some as he kicked Australia to the semi-finals at the 2011 World Cup at the age of 21, but he failed to impress Cheika after a year of injuries and poor performances.

In May this year, O'Connor made headlines after scrubbing a metre-high clearance kick straight to the opposition, handing them the easiest of tries and sealing the loss for the Reds.

Once again the All Blacks will start the competition as the favourites.

They are almost always the best team on paper, although history and results do not reflect that dominance at the World Cup.

Australia, New Zealand and South Africa - the most successful World Cup teams - are all pursuing their third World Cup win.

However, Connolly backed England on home soil to take out its second Cup.

"There's the obvious, New Zealand, but I think England will be some challenge at home," he said.



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