Australia's Wallabies Rugby News

Preview: Australia v Wales



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With touring nations struggling to make ends meet with their second and third tier sides, Australia certainly won’t be underestimating their Northern Hemisphere opponents as they prepare to take on Wales in the eagerly awaited second Test at Suncorp Stadium in Brisbane on Saturday.

And rightly so as the Wallabies await a determined Wales side out for justice after they were denied their first win on Australia soil since 1969, thanks to a match-winning try by Stephen Hoiles after the full-time hooter had sounded last weekend.

The last-gasp victory was a relief for the Wallabies and their home fans in Sydney, while at the same time heartbreaking for the Welsh and their supporters.

There were many positives for Wales to take out of their performance last week and the players will surely have renewed self belief come kick-off on Saturday.

Australia too will have undoubtedly learnt lessons and will come after their visitors with a bit more zest, but Wales know now that they do not fear the two-time rugby world champions and have proved that their players have something to offer as well.

After a truly shocking start to the season last week, the Wallabies will need to show great improvement if they are to convince anyone that they are genuine World Cup contenders this year.

The Welsh showed last week that while they left some big names at home, they still have the talent and depth to be competitive.

Australia coach John Connolly aka “Knuckles” has also defended the strength of the Welsh squad. What he cannot deny is that they left 18 players at home to prepare for the World Cup, while he and the Wallabies selectors were considerably spoilt for choice.

However both teams have been forced into either replacing or dropping members of their squad this week, while the Australia have been left sweating on their fly-half’s availability with 24 hours to go until kick-off.

For Australia, the most noticeable changes would be wing Mark Gerrard and flanker Phil Waugh making way for Test debutant Digby loane and George Smith.

The Wallabies selectors have correctly stuck with centre Adam Ashley-Cooper in the side – he is potentially Australia’s most damaging backline player and needs time to develop – while his Brumbies team-mate Julian Huxley also has another chance to shine after a less than convincing debut last week.

Veteran fly-half Stephen Larkham remains in doubt for the Test after looking discomforted at training on Wednesday night as he battles a hamstring strain.

Larkham’s absence will be a huge blow for the home side and a slight bonus for the visitors, though the Wales squad would be best off focusing on their own preparation and not let his presence – or absence – affect their game plan.

Indications are clear that Wales intend on looking after Australia’s novice back three of Test debutant Ioane, one-cap Huxley and eleven-Test left winger Drew Mitchell.

“It can be a lonely place at times, especially when you’re a new cap,” said Wales captain Gareth Thomas.

“If you can find somebody out, you can find them out there.”

For Wales, Aled Brew has been called up to take his place on the wing which means Thomas moves back to full-back, with Lee Byrne dropping out of the squad altogether. Brew also forces Chris Czekaj over to the left wing.

Then of course there’s the late change at tight-head prop for Wales after Adam Jones was ruled out by a torn calf muscle.

Harlequins prop Ceri Jones gets his first Wales start as pre-match replacement for his Ospreys’ namesake.

And that was not the end of the injury worries for Wales with coach Gareth Jenkins revealing that a back injury sustained by teenage prop Jamie Corsi last week has forced them to call up Worcester’s Chris Horsman.

So both sides certainly have a different look about them from those who battled it out for 80-plus minutes last

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