Howley wary ‘clinical’ Australia will want to put a marker down

Rob Howley expects Wales to face Australia’s tried and tested quality when the 2015 Rugby World Cup pool rivals clash in Cardiff next week.

It has been far from plain sailing for the Wallabies during their European tour preparations, a five-game schedule that starts against the Barbarians at Twickenham on Saturday.

Kurtley Beale was dropped for the last two Rugby Championship Tests against Argentina and New Zealand after becoming embroiled in a high-profile row with Wallabies business manager Di Patston, who has since resigned. The 25-year-old was fined £24,640 after being found guilty of a serious breach of the Australian RUs code of conduct.

Coach Ewen McKenzie, meanwhile, announced his resignation immediately following Australia’s dramatic 29-28 loss to New Zealand 10 days ago, and he was subsequently replaced by former Leinster and Stade Francais supremo Michael Cheika, who will also continue to head up a successful New South Wales Waratahs outfit until next year. Wales have lost nine successive games against the Wallabies since beating them 21-18 in November 2008 – five of those defeats were by four points or less – and Howley has dismissed any notion of life becoming any easier.

“In Michael Cheika they have a coach who has won in the northern and southern hemisphere,” Wales assistant coach Howley said.

“He understands a lot of theplayers they have got and I have no doubt they will be in a good place.

“Sometimes, off the field doesn’t reflect what goes on the field and they will come over knowing we are in the same World Cup group in less than a year’s time. They will want to put a marker down.

“Australian players have got a knack of being clinical. They have great skill-sets and they will be no different this autumn. They play fantastic rugby and they probably should have beaten New Zealand in that last Test. They came up short in the last 90 seconds.”


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