'Don't write them off' – Richie McCaw warns of Wallabies' World Cup dark horse status

The Wallabies are candidates to win the 2019 Rugby World Cup, despite their supposed woes, according to former All Blacks captain Richie McCaw.

Having endured a 2018 to forget with just four wins from 13 games, and losing arguably their biggest weapon after Israel Folau's sacking, the Wallabies will enter the tournament as rank outsiders.

Speaking to Reuters at a sponsor's event in Japan though, two-time World Cup winner McCaw outlined that no Australian side should be taken lightly - especially on the global stage.

"Knowing Australians like I do, they are competitive, hugely competitive and they will get themselves in good situation to compete," McCaw said.

"They have got ability to win games now against everyone so you don't want to write them off at all.

"I think sometimes where people are not talking about them a lot leading up to (the World Cup), that's the best thing you can be. You just come in and surprise everyone.

"But from a New Zealand point of view, there is never a surprise that they front up."

The Wallabies play their first Test of the year this weekend, taking on a weakened Springboks side at Ellis Park.