Australia's Marika Koroibete, Fraser McReight, Rob Valetini and Mark Nawaqanitawase...

Australia's Marika Koroibete, Fraser McReight, Rob Valetini and Mark Nawaqanitawase react after the Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Wales and Australia at the OL Stadium in Lyon, France, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Wales won the match 40-6. Credit: AP/Christophe Ena

SAINT-ETIENNE, France — In spite of the doom and gloom around Australia at the Rugby World Cup, it hasn't been knocked out yet.

Eddie Jones' misjudged bluster about winning the tournament with a young squad died after consecutive defeats to Fiji and Wales over the last two weekends, but his Wallabies are alive until Saturday evening at least.

If, by then, Fiji has beaten Georgia with a bonus point in Bordeaux then Fiji joins Wales in the quarterfinals from Pool C and the Wallabies are shut out of the knockout stage for the first time ever. If Fiji loses to Georgia or doesn't get a bonus point, it still has one more chance to make the quarters next week against Portugal.

In the meantime, the two-time champion Wallabies can cross as many fingers as they can to hex Fiji, and will know their fate before they complete their pool campaign on Sunday in a first meeting with the lively Portuguese.

Os Lobos have done their country proud for a team that was the 20th and last qualifier to make the Rugby World Cup, 16 years after its only other appearance.

A Wales second string was flattered to win by 28-8 and Os Lobos could have beaten rival Georgia but drew 18-18 last Saturday for its first World Cup points.

The Wallabies, following the dismal 40-6 defeat to Wales last weekend, have dumped centers Samu Kerevi and Jordan Petaia and replaced them with Waratahs pair Lalakai Foketi and Izaia Perese, who have a combined 13 tests but don't feel out of place. They are between Waratahs mates Ben Donaldson at flyhalf and Mark Nawaqanitawase on one wing. Perese will make his first start in his second test.

Australia's Lalakai Foketi, center, is talked by Georgian players during...

Australia's Lalakai Foketi, center, is talked by Georgian players during the Rugby World Cup Pool C match between Australia and Georgia at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, north of Paris, Saturday, Sept. 9, 2023. Credit: AP/Thibault Camus

"Foketi has trained well the whole tournament,” Jones said on Friday. “Samu has probably just been a little off. He's had a tough run-in to the World Cup, coming back from an ACL, two hamstring injuries. He just hasn't been as sharp as we'd like him to be.

“Jordy Petaia had a bit of a calf issue. He's fit now but, again, with Izzy, he's trained really well the whole World Cup.”

Fraser McReight has gone into the back row, and the reserves were freshened with Rob Leota, one-cap back-rower Josh Kemeny and two-cap scrumhalf Issak Fines-Leleiwasa.

Prop James Slipper will become the most capped Wallaby at a Rugby World Cup with his 21st game, leaving behind George Gregan.

Australia's Rob Valetini, left, and teammate Samu Kerevi gesture during...

Australia's Rob Valetini, left, and teammate Samu Kerevi gesture during a Rugby World Cup Pool C match against Wales at the Parc OL stadium in Lyon, France, Sunday, Sept. 24, 2023. Credit: AP/Laurent Cipriani

The lineup confirmed squad captain Will Skelton and first-choice tighthead Taniela Tupou were still unavailable following their training injuries after the opening win over Georgia.

“A tough old week,” Jones said. “We trained the day after the (Wales) game because we wanted to get back out on the field.

"With the young players we thought we wanted to get their thoughts in their head about how we want to play against Portugal. We've got a clear plan.

“I think we've trained really well but we are not getting the results, and sometimes the scoreboard is the last thing to change. And that's hard to take and I know it's hard to understand, but sometimes that’s the case.”

Portugal made four changes from the Georgia draw, all in the forward pack. Loosehead David Costa and back-rowers David Wallis and Thibault de Freitas make their first appearances in the Rugby World Cup. Martim Belo comes into the second row after 14 minutes off the bench last week.



Australia: Andrew Kellaway, Mark Nawaqanitawase, Izaia Perese, Lalakai Foketi, Marika Koroibete, Ben Donaldson, Tate McDermott; Rob Valetini, Fraser McReight, Tom Hooper, Richard Arnold, Nick Frost, James Slipper, Dave Porecki (captain), Angus Bell. Reserves: Matt Faessler, Blake Schoupp, Pone Fa’amausili, Rob Leota, Josh Kemeny, Issak Fines-Leleiwasa, Carter Gordon, Suliasi Vunivalu.

Portugal: Nuno Sousa Guedes, Raffaele Storti, Pedro Bettencourt, Tomás Appleton (captain), Rodrigo Marta, Jerónimo Portela, Samuel Marques; Thibault de Freitas, Nicolas Martins, David Wallis, Martim Belo, José Madeira, Diogo Hasse Ferreira, Mike Tadjer, David Costa. Reserves: Francisco Fernandes, Duarte Diniz, Francisco Bruno, Steevy Cerqueira, Rafael Simoes, Joao Belo, Joris Moura, Manuel Cardoso Pinto.

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