Australia is one of only two nations to have won the World Cup twice (South Africa being the other). You’d expect nothing less of a nation whose identity is defined by sport and the competitive instinct.
In the inaugural competition, in 1987, a very strong Australia side was set to face Antipodean rivals New Zealand in the final - and knowing Australia, they would have scuppered the All Blacks. But Michael Lynagh and co. took their eye off the ball, losing to underdogs France in the semi-final. Spirit crushed, they then lost in the third/fourth-place playoff against Wales.
It was a painful lesson for the Aussies, but they bounced back, winning their first World Cup at the next attempt, with an attritional victory against Will Carling’s England in the final at Twickenham.
England gained some revenge four years later, beating Australia in the quarter-finals in the 1995 tournament. But as before, the Wallabies came back stronger, going all the way in 1999; when they beat France in a disappointingly one-sided final in Cardiff.
Two more defeats by England, one in the 2003 final in Sydney (at the boot of Jonny Wilkinson in extra-time), followed by a surprising defeat in the quarter-finals last time out, really hurt Australia. But as history has shown, you should never write off a wounded Aussie. They will go close in 2011.
Australia World Cup squad:
Ben Alexander, Adam Ashley-Cooper, Berrick Barnes, Kurtley Beale, Luke Burgess Quade Cooper, Rocky Elsom, Anthony Fainga'a, Saia Fainga'a, Will Genia, Scott Higginbotham, Rob Horne, James Horwill, Digby Ioane, Sekope Kepu, Salesi Ma'afu, Pat McCabe, Ben McCalman, Drew Mitchell, Stephen Moore, James O'Connor, Wycliff Palu, Nick Phipps, David Pocock, Tatafu Polota-Nau, Radike Samo, Nathan Sharpe, Rob Simmons, James Slipper, Dan Vickerman
Follow ITV Rugby on Twitter