Tim Horan - 'Wales game biggest of professional era for Australian rugby'

Tim Horan - 'Wales game biggest of professional era for Australian rugby'

Comments from Australia's double Rugby World Cup-winning centre Tim Horan ahead of the crucial Pool C clash between the Wallabies and Wales at OL Stadium on Sunday.

Tim Horan, former Australia centre and two-time RWC winner:

On this being Australia’s most important game in the professional era:

"It’s probably the biggest game for the Wallabies since the Rugby World Cup 2015 final. It could amount to bigger than that. Maybe it’s the biggest game in the professional era for Australian rugby because if you don’t make the quarter-finals for the first time in the Rugby World Cup, that is huge. The ramifications of not making a quarter-final are big.

"In the context of where rugby sits in Australia, the amount of tourists that are here supporting the Wallabies, the amount of people back home supporting the Wallabies, we need to win this game to make a quarter-final.

"We are always paddling for airtime in Australia with the other codes. For us, if you don’t get to a World Cup final, things are tough. So to not make a quarter-final is going to make the next two years, leading into a British and Irish Lions test series, tough to be able to promote.

"A lot of fans in Australia (only) watch the Wallabies and they are dictated by wins and losses for the Wallabies."

On what Australia need to do in order to beat Wales: 

"We’ve got to get back a little bit of the DNA of Australian rugby, that’s ball-in-hand, running rugby but also there’s a balance between playing field position in this World Cup and the penalties that are coming - and with [Wales fly-half] Dan Biggar, he can kick goals from anywhere, that’s crucial.

"If we are single digit penalties awarded against us, I think we can win the game. Once we start to hit double figures, we will struggle.

"Discipline is really key after 18 penalties last week and then the accuracy at the breakdown - not to go too wide, too early, to get exposed. That’s a pattern of play the Wallabies will have to balance with. You know, the Wallabies have got two of the top six wingers in the game and you’ve got to get them the ball. They have to get some width in their game."

On Tate McDermott and Rob Leota being key components for Australia:

"Tate McDermott, he’s the key. For me if the Wallabies are to win, Tate McDermott has to be probably man of the match - to be able to jump out from scrum-half. They missed him last week.

"Rob Leota at six is a really good inclusion into the game - he brings that size, that power. I think we lacked a bit of that size to bend Fiji's defensive line last week. So it's really important that he gets involved early. Then you would think Fraser McReight would come on with 30 minutes to go, maybe at half-time."

On head coach Eddie Jones' decision to drop young fly-half Carter Gordon:

"He is going to get dropped again through his career, he’s going to get picked again, he’s going to start at 10 again. It’s just the way of the world. Players get moved around a little bit these days. He can add a lot to the game, maybe with 15, 20 minutes to go when the game opens up a bit more."

On a lack of an experienced back-up fly-half  in the Australia squad:

"I think 95 per cent of the squad (is good). There’s always five per cent of the squad where you think 'this player should have gone'. I mean Pete Samu should have been one of the first forwards picked, he wasn’t. And maybe it’s a Quade Cooper, maybe it’s a Bernard Foley as a back-up 10. I think coming into the tournament with the youngest squad in the whole World Cup, you needed a little bit of experience around the team. Yes, you can look for two to four years down the track, but you’ve still got to go well in this World Cup.

"You can talk about three or four selections but apart from that he did a pretty good job in getting a squad over here, young enough, fit enough to do a job if we didn’t have too many injuries."

On his prediction for Sunday's match: 

"Tonight you will see something special from the Wallabies and hopefully we can move on.

"They know there is pressure, they know there is support. It’s up to them now to probably take it out of Eddie Jones’ hands and do something special as a team, as individuals.

"Welsh fans have been singing for the past two days so hopefully they sleep in."

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