Fiji, however, lead the overall International Rugby standings for this season, with 72 points from four tournaments to date. England follow (60), then South Africa (52) and New Zealand (38). Samoa, Australia and Canada would also expect to be in medal contention in Melbourne.
With 42 matches being played over the two days at the Telstra Dome in Melbourne, depth of talent and fitness will be tested to the full and the biggest, strongest teams usually outlast those that rely more on speed. The Australian's, eager to win gold in front of their home crowd, have been given a massive lift with the inclusion of Wallabies players Lote Tuqiri, Matt Giteau, Scott Fava and Chris Latham.
Wales who will be led by Ospreys flanker Richie Pugh and who are likely to include Cardiff Blues captain Rhys Williams who will add some much needed international experience to the side after the withdrawal of Dragons winger Gareth Wyatt. The Welsh, coached by Newport Gwent Dragons skills guru Dai Rees, face favourites New Zealand, Kenya and Namibia in the pool stages of the Games.