Wales vs Australia : WALLABIES coach Michael Cheika insists he has no problem with his side being labelled underdogs for Sunday’s Test match against Wales (4.20am AEDT). Cheika and his team have endured an indifferent season, with just two wins from six in the Rugby Championship and just three victories from 10 starts overall.
Despite their chequered recent form, Australia, boasting just 10 players who appeared in the last World Cup, have won their last 13 games against Wales.There was a rare 21-18 success for Wales in Cardiff in 2008, but that has been followed by eight home losses, plus one defeat each in London, Auckland, Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney, with six of the margins by five points or less as Australia turned the screw at the death.
At some point, Wales are going to break their 13-test losing streak against Australia. A casual observer would assume Saturday’s Autumn International would be the golden chance, given the relative disarray in which Michael Cheika’s Wallabies find themselves.
The Australians have lost all but three Tests this year, beaten at least once by all teams in the Rugby Championship and suffering a 2-1 series loss to Ireland in June. In short – it’s a great time for Wales to play them at home at break the streak.Read more: England vs New Zealand: Kick off time, TV details, team news, confirmed lineups, odds and predictionsThat said, you should never underestimate the Wallabies. They always compete and they are always a physical presence. While the odds may be stacked in favour of Warren Gatland’s side, Cheika’s men will only see that as incentive to produce an upset.
For Wales, Gareth Anscombe retains the fly-half jersey while Adam Beard and Josh Adams have been given starts ahead of the more experienced Cory Hill and Liam Williams. Bradley Davies has undergone surgery on a knee injury and remains ruled out of action for the entire Autumn.
Israel Folau has moved to the wing, while Jack Dempsey and Samu Kerevi earn starts for the Wallabies after their performances against the All Blacks from the bench. Adam Coleman has returned to the starting XV, recovered from a groin injury that forced him out of the third Bledisloe Cup match. Matt To’omua comes to the bench, while Adam Ashley-Cooper has missed out on the squad and Marika Koroibete has been dropped.
Wales’ head coach Warren Gatland said he was rewarding club form over experience when selecting Adam Beard and Josh Adams over Cory Hill and Liam Williams: “I think there are a few things to realise in terms of the consideration of the team. One, there is some continuity from last week and two, we wanted to reward the boys that toured in the summer. Josh had a particularly good tour and we wanted to give him another opportunity.
We know the capabilities of Liam Williams and Josh getting an opportunity against a quality side like Australia gives us another chance to look at him. We’ve talked about creating depth and competition within the squad and that’s why those guys have been picked in those positions.It is about us trying to be consistent and also sending a message to the players who went in the summer that their performances will be rewarded. We are also creating depth and competition within the squad as well.