Solid hit-out and ‘home’ comforts have Australia spirits high

Centre Kerevi insists criticism is irrelevant, as the Wallabies begin their quarter-final preparations at a luxurious base outside Tokyo.

ODAWARA, 12 Oct - Wallabies vice captain Samu Kerevi has revealed the Australia squad are delighted to be back "home" in their pre-tournament training base in Odawara.

Fewer than 90 minutes after finally seeing off Georgia 27-8 in a stuttering final Pool D match, the Australia players piled on to the team coach then drove through the night to the coastal town 85km south west of Tokyo to see out the worst of Typhoon Hagibis in familiar and comfortable surroundings.

Despite pundits questioning everything from coach Michael Cheika's selection and gameplan to the players' handling skills and discipline, Kerevi insists spirits could not be higher in camp.

"That game was perfect for us," Kerevi, pictured above being tackled, said, underlining the physical challenge the team overcame.

The outside-centre pointed out that Australia stuck to their expansive, ball-in-hand strategy despite the torrential rain and gusting wind.

"There are still areas we can improve and there are a lot of learnings from that game, but I thought it was a really good game for us to head into the quarters, whoever we play.

"Odawara is the perfect place for us to be at the moment. This is basically home for us, being here is awesome.

"There's no complaint from the boys. We understand you can't tell a typhoon to go away.

"It was all good from us, we got on to the bus, the boys were throwing jokes, just trying to make the bus trip really exciting.

"We had music jamming, guys were watching Netflix, some guys were sleeping, some guys were eating.

"It was raining pretty hard - we put the windows down and tried to taste the rain. It was an awesome trip."

With teams and fans holed up in hotels across the country as Hagibis battered Japan, the Wallabies have gyms, indoor training centres, pools, onsens and even a covered driving range at their home from home.

The plan is for the team to stay until they fly to Oita, the venue for their quarter-final, on Wednesday.

Since narrowly losing to Wales in their second Pool D match, the team's mantra has been that "every game is now a grand final". This focus on "knockout footy", as Kerevi labelled it, has put them in a good place. 

"I don't think it is about changing anything. We are sticking to our same processes," he said.

Kerevi dismissed concerns that England's six straight wins against Australia since Rugby World Cup 2015 would have any effect.

"This is the World Cup. You can talk about all the stats, but you saw Japan and Ireland (the Pool A match Japan won). I love playing England." 

Full-back Kurtley Beale is upbeat, despite failing a head injury assessment against Georgia, and winger Reece Hodge has reported he is "buzzing" after finally completing his three-week ban for foul play.

All in all, the Wallabies have a spring in their step.

RNS ln/pr/ar/ajr