SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - MAY 29: Jake Gordon of the Wallabies poses during the Wallabies 2019 Rugby World Cup Jersey Launch at Carriageworks on May 29, 2019 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images)

At this moment in time, no one is really giving the Wallabies any sort of chance in Japan for the upcoming World Cup and to be quite honest, who can blame them?

Australia have been less than impressive over the last 12 months and suffered a catastrophic end-of-season tour where they lost three out of their four internationals, only managing to beat Italy.

Indeed, defeats to New Zealand, Wales, and England were an untimely reminder of how far behind the Wallabies had fallen in international rugby with less than a year to go before the start of the World Cup. There would have been a sense of panic on the ground in Australia, especially given the manner of the defeats, with the media sensing blood in the water and going in for the kill.

Despite being heavily criticised and written off in the press, not a lot has changed in the setup of Australian rugby, with the board holding their nerve and not removing Wallabies coach Michael Cheika from his position. The powers that be are obviously backing him to come good but his job got that little bit more challenging after Australia’s starman Israel Folau had his contract torn up by Rugby Australia, which has seen the Wallabies fall to incredible odds of 14/1 to win the World Cup in the rugby union betting.

To say they have their backs to the wall would be a gross understatement, but Israel Folau’s axing from the national team could inspire a more siege-like mentality within the group. The world will get their first look at the Wallabies sans their talismanic centre at the Rugby Championship which kicks off on the 21st of July, Australian time.

The Wallabies will start their campaign in South Africa against a side that, all things told, are suffering from a similar fate, with their best days seemingly a long way away at this stage. Having said that, Springbok fans will have reason to be a little more chipper having beaten the All Blacks in September last year to register their first away win over New Zealand since 2009. Beating the world champions at home is the type of result that will immeasurably help a team’s confidence and the Wallabies must try and bloody a few noses during the playing of the round-robin tournament.

When all is said and done, this Rugby Championship will go a long way in reigniting one of the SANZAR team’s hopes of a charge at the World Cup and really, it couldn’t come at a better time for the fallen powerhouses of international rugby. The standard of rugby in the Rugby Championship is some of the highest in the world for a specific hemisphere tournament so a good showing during it and punters will have good reason to believe those teams will do well in Japan.

This will be the goal for Michael Cheika and his troops as they set out to change the narrative and bring back some much-needed positivity before they set out to win the Web Ellis Cup. Should they stumble and fall during the curtain-raiser, it doesn’t bear thinking about the mood of the nation during the build-up to the World Cup.