Bleak 'reality' facing Wallabies in do-or-die Wales clash

Rugby in Australia will suffer immensely across the board if the Wallabies fail to make it through to the Rugby World Cup quarter-finals, Tim Horan has warned.

The Wallabies are facing the prospect of missing the knock-out phase of the tournament for the first time in the sport's history.

Once the pride of Australian sport, it's been more than two decades since the Wallabies last won the Rugby World Cup in 1999.

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The best they've been since is runner-up in 2003 and 2015.

After losing to Fiji, the Wallabies are in a must-win situation against Wales, or else they're guaranteed to miss the quarter-finals

Ben Donaldson looks dejected at full-time following the Rugby World Cup loss to Fiji.

Previewing the match against Wales, which gets underway 5am Monday (AEST), Wallabies legend Horan said the sport will take a massive dive Down Under if Australia loses.

"Probably the biggest game I reckon for the Wallabies in professional rugby (for) the future of the game," said Horan on Stan Sport's Shorts preview.

"If we don't make a quarter-final, if you get bundled out of the Rugby World Cup – first time in 10 Rugby World Cups to do that – I think the game will suffer in the next few years.

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"Whether it's the junior game or grassroots or whether it's the women's game, that's the reality that we're facing. 

"The ramifications would be huge for Eddie Jones, and the team, and rugby for the next couple of years if that happens."

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That's a particularly damning statement given Australia will host the next Rugby World Cup in 2027 and a British and Irish Lions tour before that in 2025.

So what will the Wallabies have to do to overcome Wales?

Discipline will be a major focus point. Australia and Fiji only scored one try each in their clash, the difference made up by penalties with Fiji winning 22-15.

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"I think it's important for discipline for the Wallabies to make sure that in that first 20 to 30 minutes we don't give away too many penalties," said Horan.

"All of a sudden you look up and you're nine-nil. That's when the pressure starts to build. 

"I think the Wallabies have got to get back to their DNA – how we got this Wallabies jersey and this DNA is attacking rugby, don't kick too much ball away, and back themselves, trust and believe in themselves."

Horan identified Taulupe Faletau as someone who could do damage to Australia, likewise Dan Biggar with the boot.

However, it's George North who will be the key.

"A lot of Aussie fans will remember George North. What a player he's been for Wales, also the British and Irish Lions for a long period of time," said Horan.

"Normally on the wing. You'll remember back in 2013 when he carried Israel Folou at Suncorp Stadium for about 20 metres. 

"He'll play at (No.) 13, so that's an area I reckon the Wallabies should start to target because if you throw some decoy runners toward his channel, being a winger, defending a No.13, the hardest position on the field to defend, that's who I reckon the Wallabies need to attack."

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