New-look Wales keen to end Aussie hoodoo

Wales are determined to begin a two-year World Cup countdown today by ending their dismal run of defeats against Australia.

The countries will square up as 2019 World Cup pool rivals in Japan, and Australia currently boast a 12-Test winning sequence that began eight years ago.

A new-look Wales team - one that contains three home Test debutants in wing Steff Evans, centre Owen Williams and flanker Josh Navidi - is charged with starting to redress the balance as they take on Australia minus injured British and Irish Lions Sam Warburton, Justin Tipuric, Rhys Webb and George North.

“Two years away (to the World Cup) is a bit far away to be looking,” Wales assistant coach and forwards specialist Robin McBryde said.

“However, it is always nice to win. We want to get that scalp we have been looking for. We know we have not got a great record against Australia, so the more times we get to improve on that record before the World Cup, the better it will be.

“We need to be clinical and bring that edge about us. I am not happy to just rely on a good performance. We need to get that result to get that next step forward.”

While much has been made of Wales’ fresh approach of fielding two midfield playmakers in Williams and fly-half Dan Biggar, they also know the basic set-piece rudiments have to be right.

“It starts and finishes with the front-five. We need to be able to give that platform in order to hopefully provide that team possession we can benefit from and take advantage of.

“It’s easy to maybe disregard that aspect, with everyone talking about a new style of play etc, so I just wanted to bring that focus back down. From a front-five point of view, sometimes it is just doing what it says on the tin, and no-one did it better than Garin.”

WALES:

L Halfpenny (Scarlets); L Williams (Saracens), J Davies (Scarlets), O Williams (Gloucester), S Evans (Scarlets); D Biggar (Ospreys), G Davies (Scarlets); R Evans (Scarlets), K Owens (Scarlets), T Francis (Exeter), J Ball (Scarlets), A W Jones (Ospreys, capt), A Shingler (Scarlets), J Navidi (Cardiff Blues), T Faletau (Bath).

Replacements:

K Dacey (Cardiff Blues), N Smith (Ospreys), L Brown (Dragons), C Hill (Dragons), S Cross (Ospreys), A Davies (Scarlets), O Watkin (Ospreys), H Amos (Dragons).

AUSTRALIA:

K Beale; M Koroibete, T Kuridrani, S Kerevi, R Hodge; B Foley, W Genia; S Sio, T Polota-Nau, S Kepu, R Simmons, A Coleman, N Hanigan, M Hooper (capt), S McMahon.

Replacements:

S Moore, T Robertson, A Alaalatoa, M Philip, B McCalman, N Phipps, K Hunt, H Speight.

Referee:

Glen Jackson (New Zealand).


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