AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 17: Tolu Latu in action for Australia during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 17, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)
AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - AUGUST 17: Tolu Latu in action for Australia during The Rugby Championship and Bledisloe Cup Test match between the New Zealand All Blacks and the Australian Wallabies at Eden Park on August 17, 2019 in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Renee McKay/Getty Images)

Team Misfit: Wallabies reveal World Cup squad

Three months ago, Tolu Latu got so drunk that when the cops found him slumped behind the wheel of his car, he was promptly booted out of Michael Cheika's World Cup training camp, unlikely to ever return again.

Charged with drink driving after recording a blood-alcohol reading almost three times the legal limit while on a suspended licence, his World Cup dream was over before it began.

With a history of on-field disciplinary problems, Latu was way too risky to take to the World Cup so was written off as another wasted talent.

Then the firebrand Waratahs' hooker went and surprised everyone.

He sobered up, underwent rehabilitation to get himself as fit as he's ever been and started playing the house down, so much so that he's re-established himself as Australia's first choice rake.

Today, he's being handed the keys to the Wallaby forward pack that will ultimately determine whether the Webb Ellis Cup heads back to Australian shores.

Latu will still have his doubters but credit where credit's due because his road to redemption should give hope to every long suffering Wallaby fan that this team of misfits has the capacity to shock anyone.

 

James O'Connor has made the most of his second chance. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt
James O'Connor has made the most of his second chance. Picture: AAP Image/Dave Hunt

 

We saw that two weeks ago when the Wallabies handed New Zealand their biggest ever loss, only to get hammered by the All Blacks seven days later.

When they get it right, the Wallabies can beat anyone on their day, but they've had more bad days than good in the past two years and the World Cup rarely offers as many second chances as Cheika gives.

His 31-man squad is packed with players given a rare opportunity to atone for their past failings, including a dozen that played in the 2015 final loss to New Zealand and others whose careers were laid to waste.

The former boy wonder James O'Connor is back after six years in the wilderness, the beneficiary of a bizarre Icelandic man camp where he submerged himself in icy cold water to deprive himself of basic senses, until he came to his senses.

 

Halfback Nic White has been impressive in his return to the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images
Halfback Nic White has been impressive in his return to the Wallabies. Picture: Getty Images

Eight years ago, when O'Connor was selected for the 2011 World Cup, he didn't even show up for the announcement but the young man who was then a non-stop party animal has matured into a reformed teetotaller.

James Slipper, busted twice for using cocaine, has also returned stronger for overcoming his weaknesses. Unwanted by the Queensland Reds, he's reinvented himself at the Brumbies, turning his life around after battling depression.

Nic White, one of 18 World Cup first-timers, gets his chance four years later than expected after he lost his spot for 2015 on the back of one bad night against a rampant All Blacks' team.

 

WALLABIES WORLD CUP POOL DRAW

DateOpponentLocation
Saturday, September 21FijiSapporo Dome, Sapporo
Sunday, September 29WalesAjinomoto Stadium, Tokyo
Saturday, October 5UruguayOita Bank Dome, Oita
Friday, October 11GeorgiaShizuoka Stadium, Shizuoka

 

"We've become a really tight group and it was a very difficult process in picking only 31 players, but I know each player selected will travel to Japan with the full support of those teammates who won't board the flight," Cheika said.

Cheika knows nothing makes a team hungrier than players with a point to prove so is banking on that being his trump card with plenty more potholes looming on the road ahead with Wales, Fiji, Uruguay and Georgia in Australia's pool and a 10-day jungle training camp in New Caledonia and a Test against Samoa to come before they even get to Japan.

 

WALLABIES' WORLD CUP SQUAD

BACKS (14)

Kurtley Beale

Adam Ashley-Cooper

Dane Haylett-Petty

Reece Hodge

Marika Koroibete

Jordan Petaia

James O'Connor

Tevita Kuridrani

Samu Kerevi

Matt Toomua

Bernard Foley

Christian Lealiifano

Will Genia

Nic White

FORWARDS (17)

Isi Naisarani

Michael Hooper (c)

David Pocock

Lukhan Salakaia-Loto

Jack Dempsey

Rory Arnold

Izack Rodda

Adam Coleman

Rob Simmons

Sekope Kepu

Taniela Tupou

Allan Alaalatoa

James Slipper

Scott Sio

Folau Faingaa

Tolu Latu

Jordan Uelese

 

 

Stream the Rugby World Cup 2019 on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >

 

Stream the Rugby World Cup 2019 on KAYO SPORTS. Every match Live & On-Demand on your TV, computer, mobile or tablet. Get your 14 day free trial >



GUNS POINTED: Yamba woman's inside view of uni lockdown

premium_icon GUNS POINTED: Yamba woman's inside view of uni lockdown

Hear what happened when police locked down campus

UNDER THREAT:’It’s like everyone’s world has stopped’

premium_icon UNDER THREAT:’It’s like everyone’s world has stopped’

PHOTOS and firsthand accounts from the fire front.

Surfer warns of monster great white lurking in surf break

premium_icon Surfer warns of monster great white lurking in surf break

Two shark sightings in two days at same beach.