A veteran of 101 appearances for the Wallabies including three Rugby World Cups, Campese was player of the tournament in 1991 as well as picking up a winners’ medal. Inside Sport caught up with Campo in London to get his thoughts on the Wallabies and this year’s tournament.

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After last weekend’s game against Fiji, the Wallabies attracted criticism for their first-half performance and found themselves trailing 14-12 at the break – but Campese delivers a reality check for those who already writing off Cheika’s men based on that performance.

“Fiji probably thought they had a chance to beat Australia," he says. "The way they came out at 100 miles an hour, you know, they played bloody well.

"The Wallabies looked like they were a bit shell shocked in the first 20 or 30 minutes.

"People have got to realise you can’t win a World Cup from the first game.”

Fiji’s second game, against Uruguay, turned out to be shock result but if you put it in the context of the tournament it makes far more sense, says the veteran of more than 100 Wallaby tests. 

“They have probably got such a high to play Australia, but they couldn’t get themselves up again. Which is a shame because Fiji are a bloody good team,” says Campese.

Campese believes Tier 2 teams such as Fiji are not being helped by World Rugby, illustrated by Fiji playing just eight matches against Tier 1 nations since the last Rugby World Cup.

“You know, they don’t really play," he adds. "In between World Cups - who do they really play? They don’t really get the chance.” 

But what was his advice for the Wallabies' recipe for success?

“It’s all about enjoyment," he says. "You’ve got to really enjoy what you’re doing. If you enjoy what you’re doing, you’ll probably have a better game.

"If you make a mistake, get annoyed with yourself. Just don’t just sort of think, ‘It’s a job.’ It’s actually the World Cup. And, not many players get a chance to play.”

Perhaps recalling his own final Rugby World Cup appearance in 1995, he adds: “Some of these guys, it’s their last World Cup...

"You don’t want to, sort of, be remembered for, ‘we didn’t get anywhere’. It’s about going the distance. Anything’s possible in life, if you believe.”

Campese echoed the criticism of many other experts about Wallaby Reece Hodge's tackle and subsequent citation which snuffed him out for three matches.

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“The interesting thing is that, if Hodge got 10 minutes, the thing’s dealt with," said Campese. "They all know the laws of the game, so I don’t understand why we keep on getting a situation where we’ve got to defend people.

"The laws of the game state that you can’t do certain tackles. So just don’t do it.”

The Wallabies’ next opponents, Wales, played on Monday against Georgia. Wales had a solid first half, but Georgia asked a few questions after the break...but Campese was drawing no conclusion based on that final 40.

“Wales realise that’s not the biggest game to play. They won," he warns. "They rely a lot on their defence.

"Attack-wise, they didn’t really – I think George North probably touched the ball twice in 80 minutes. I actually didn’t realise he was playing the first half, because he didn’t get the ball.

"So, maybe, this might change the tactics. But Wales are very defence orientated. You’ve just got to be very, very careful. You’ve got to try and create opportunities, to break up their defence.”

So is Sunday’s game against Wales in Tokyo a must win game?

“A win’s a win. Just like any test, you don’t want to lose a test," says Campese. "The best thing is in your hands. If you can create opportunities, go for it.

"You know, you can’t just pick up with, ‘Why didn’t we do that?’ You can’t believe that off the paddock, you’ve just got to give the whole 80 minutes everything you’ve got, and then move onto the next game.”

So ultimately, who does Campo believe will be holding the Webb Ellis Cup aloft on November 2? The scorer of a word-record international tries initially hedges his bets...

“The South Africans are dangerous," he says. "I mean, with the French, who knows? As you know, the French, mate, you don’t know what they’re going to bloody do!”

Knowing how slippery Campese was to tackle on the rugby field, I decided to push my luck and get a name.  Eventually, I gave Campese the scenario of if I gave him $10 to put a bet on a team to win the cup, who was he going to plump for.  He gave me his answer…


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