Australia coach Robbie Deans insists his men are taking nothing for granted as they prepare to meet injury-ravaged Wales at the Millennium Stadium on Saturday.
The Wallabies boss was today able to name an unchanged line-up from the matchday 22 that secured a thrilling victory over New Zealand in last weekend’s breathless Bleidsloe Cup Test in Hong Kong.
Wales coach Warren Gatland, meanwhile, has been beset by injuries that have ruled out the likes of full-back Lee Byrne, wing Leigh Halfpenny, back-rower Ryan Jones and centre Jamie Roberts.
Gatland today included the inexperienced Newport Gwent Dragons pair of wing Will Harries and flanker Dan Lydiate in his XV, with midfield maestro James Hook moving to full-back.
Veteran flanker Martyn Williams, Wales’ most capped forward with 95 appearances, is on the bench with his Cardiff Blues colleague Sam Warburton being handed the task of neutralising Australian tyro David Pocock at the breakdown.
Australia were dominant 33-12 victors in Cardiff this time last year, with many pundits predicting another heavy defeat for Wales, but Deans is expecting a tough contest for the James Bevan Trophy, and is adamant that the buoyant Wallabies cannot afford to take their hosts lightly.
He said: “We believe we have been getting progression this year but this contest will be totally different from last year.
“We have no doubt that Warren (Gatland) will have looked at that game along with Shaun (Edwards) in particular and they will have ideas and plans on how to stymie us.
“I don’t spend too much time dwelling on what the other team are doing, we spend our time dwelling on what we are doing. They have put together a line-up they think will work for them and they will have some plans for us.
“We know they have been working hard, this game is their first outing and they will be jumping out of their skins and trying to knock us over.
“We are not looking beyond Saturday that is for sure.”
Deans’ decision to opt for the same again after victory over the All Blacks marked just the second time that the former Crusaders’ coach has been able to do so since taking charge of Australia at the start of 2008.
And the 51-year-old believes that continuity of selection is vital if his side are to build on recent victories over South Africa and New Zealand.
“We have opted for continuity and the good thing about this tour is everyone will get the opportunity to wear the Wallaby jersey and we will respond to what we see the guys do,” he said.
“The guys who played the other day did a reasonable job and have been rewarded.
“Continuity’s good but it is only good if you make it work. What it does do is assist the consistency of performance but that’s only off the back of consistency of preparation.
“By having consistent faces you are able to push on rather than continually revisiting elements that need to be covered because of a lack of history.
“You are able to push on and develop what you are doing, and push the boundaries in terms of the things you want to do.”
Deans also paid tribute to the form of fly-half Quade Cooper, who has turned in a string of eye-catching displays with his invention and unconventional style as part of a Wallaby side that has endeavoured to keep the ball in hand at every opportunity, but says his side are looking to add a more pragmatic edge to their approach.
“Obviously our game is about more than Quade,” said Deans. “He does the things he does because of the threats around him, and there are plenty of them.
“But he has come on heaps in the last year, he is a real student of the game and he is aware that he is not the complete product yet, but he is enjoying the challenge.
“We are working hard on the balance of our game, you can’t be one-dimensional at this level or sides learn how to deal with you. It’s something we have worked hard at and we made some progress in that area in Hong Kong.”