Wallaby will join ‘best in the world’
JORDAN Petaia's teammates have no doubt they're witnessing the birth of a Wallabies great at this Rugby World Cup.
The question is whether it's too much to ask a 19-year-old to swiftly rectify some shonky Australian backline work at the tournament and do it in the pressure-cooker of a quarter-final against England.
Michael Cheika's 11th hour solution to his team's lack of cohesive attack out wide in Japan was to bypass proven performers such as the demoted James O'Connor, Tevita Kuridrani, Dane Haylett-Petty and Adam Ashley-Cooper, and go all-in on Petaia in his favoured position of outside centre.
It's a move that could backfire badly on Saturday in Oita. Or prove a masterstroke.
Veteran halfback Will Genia believes Cheika has got it right to shift Petaia following his first two Tests on the wing.
He plans to give the rising Queensland Reds star every opportunity to prove himself.
"I rate Jordan very highly, he's a player who could be one of the best players in the world in the not too distant future," Genia said.
"Personally I've just wanted to make him as comfortable as I can this week so he can be himself genuinely."
Petaia will become the first teenage midfield back to play in a World Cup knockout match.
It will be the latest in series of Wallabies and World Cup records the two-Test rookie has smashed for his age.
None of it comes as any surprise to midfield partner Kerevi, who was asked for his recollection of Queensland's opening Super Rugby match in Dunedin in February, when he and Petaia sliced the Highlanders defence open time and again in Dunedin, albeit in a losing cause.
"I've had thoughts about Jordy since the first day he actually walked into our club at the Reds," Kerevi said.
"I think he just had that rare talent and now he's really refining that, becoming the player that he is.
"I'm really excited to see how he goes, not just for this weekend but the rest of his career. From the first time I saw him at training and the way he is, he's going to be one of the greats."
A week after carving up in Dunedin, Petaia suffered the foot injury that sidelined him for six months, leaving rugby supporters with tantalising images of a midfield combination they thought wouldn't be seen again this year.
They'll reunite at another enclosed venue, Oita Stadium, where Kerevi says his plan will be to get the ball in the big youngster's hands early to settle any nerves.
He backed Petaia's defence to stand up against an England midfield that features renowned tackle-busting behemoth Manu Tuilagi.
GUIDE TO THE QUARTER-FINALS
Saturday October 19, 7.15pm: England (3) Vs Australia (6)
The Wallabies have at least managed to make it out of their group and were just four points away from finishing top.
A defeat against Wales was costly as they are now pitted against perennial rivals England with a semi-final against New Zealand or Ireland on the line.
The Wallabies will need to overcome Aussie Eddie Jones' English side, who have held the edge over Australia since the last Rugby World Cup, winning the past six games by an average of 15 points.
Saturday October 19, 10.15pm: New Zealand (2) Vs Ireland (1)
It's a bizarre time for these teams to play each other with Ireland edging ahead of New Zealand in the world rankings just before the start of the Rugby World Cup.
But New Zealand has traditionally held the edge over Ireland, until the past three games.
In the lead up to this World Cup, Ireland have won two of the past three games.
Sunday October 20, 7.15pm: Wales (5) Vs France (8)
Wales and France have a long history of playing each other as Six Nations competitors and from that perspective, Wales definitely has the edge.
Six Nations Grand Slam winner Wales has won seven of the last eight matches between the teams, dating back to the 2011 World Cup semi final.
Sunday October 20, 10.15pm: Japan (10) Vs South Africa (4)
Japan has its first chance to chase World Cup glory after making it through the pool rounds for the first time.
The Blossoms come up against South Africa, one of the favourites for the tournament.
WHO WILL WIN?
Kayo Sports have had an oracle for the Rugby World Cup and this is where he can shine.
The streaming service have Owen the Oracle and the psychic axolotl has picked an incredible 34 of the 37 matches of the pool stages.
But as we get to the quarterfinals and down to the knockout stages of the tournament, anything that can give you an edge is perfect.
Owen the Oracle's tips: Australia over England, New Zealand to defeat Ireland, Wales to beat France and South Africa to end the Japanese dream run.
HOW CAN I WATCH?
Kayo Sports, Australia's multi-sport streaming service, will deliver customers live and on demand coverage of all 48 matches.
In addition to all the LIVE action, Kayo will deliver every match of the tournament on demand, meaning customers can catch up anywhere, anytime, on their TV or favourite device.
'Kayo Minis' are a condensed highlights package for those who miss the full game and will be available for all 48 matches shortly after the final whistle.
Fans can also warm up to the action with a suite of special Rugby World Cup programming, including classic matches, documentaries, and a dedicated tournament carousel, available on Kayo now.
Fox Sports will also deliver all 48 games live and ad break free on two dedicated, 24 hour channels - in HD on Fox Sports 503 and in 4K Ultra HD on RWC 4K (Channel 499).
Channel 10 will have all Wallabies group matches as well as select matches in later rounds.
- England ($1.33) v Australia ($3.35)
- New Zealand ($1.20) v Ireland ($4.50)
- Wales ($1.38) v France ($3.10)
- Japan ($5.20) v South Africa ($1.16)