Wallaby scrum to pay the penalty

Fri, 29 Nov 2013 16:41
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Wales see Australia's scrum as the team's soft underbelly ahead of their Test in Cardiff on Saturday.

Wales see Australia's scrum as the team's soft underbelly ahead of their Test in Cardiff on Saturday, the final international of the year-end season.

Welsh forwards coach Robin McBryde made no secret of the fact that he believes his team's pack could gain a significant advantage over the wobbly Wallaby forwards.

Traditionally scrummaging is not the Wallabies' big strength and Wales are looking at targeting that area.

McBryde, addressing the media after Wales' captain's run on Friday, said he hoped that Australia's record of 28 scrum penalties in their last six games is extended.

"You can take the statistics for what they are, but they have been penalised heavily at scrum time," he said.

"In the last six games in particular - 28 times they have been penalised in the scrum."

Seven of Wales' pack played on the successful British and Irish Lions tour of Australia in June and July, winning the series 2-1.

The only non-Lion is Scarlets tighthead Rhodri Jones, who has started the last two wins against Argentina and Tonga, after Adam Jones picked up an ankle injury in the defeat at the hands of South Africa.

Although Wales are set to field the seven Lions that could change as Ian Evans's wife is due to give birth.

Ospreys lock Evans, who will join Toulon at the end of the season, trained on Friday but Andrew Coombs has been put on standby.

"Ian Evans has been on the end of the phone this week. It's a big week for him and hopefully tomorrow will be a big day as well," said McBryde.

"Andrew Coombs is chomping at the bit. If he has an opportunity to come in, I'm sure it will be one he will take.

"It's been a tough month for Andrew. He's been in and around the squad and hasn't played but he's familiar with all the calls and systems."

However, even if Evans is ruled out, the Welsh mentor believes they will have an edge up front.

"Obviously we are going to be looking to gain an advantage up front," insisted McBryde.

"It has been a very fruitful part of the game in the past and hopefully we can do the same on Saturday.

"We are not going to hide away from it - we are going well as a forward unit.

"We need to be confident in the fact that we have the experience, the bulk up front. We are going to play to our strengths and that being one of them.,

"We have picked a very strong team. We know the threats they pose. We have to be wary of them but also gain confidence from the way we want to play."

But McBryde dismissed the charge from the Wallaby scrumhalf Will Genia that Wales has a psychological weak spot against the Southern Hemisphere teams - Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.

Wales have lost 57 of their last 61 matches against the big three, but McBryde said Wales do not have a problem against them and that Australians like playing mind games.

"This is part of their make-up as Australians - it's not just on the rugby field it's on the cricket field as well. It [talking a big game] is something they like to do," insisted McBryde.

"If you want to enter into that all the best. The best advice is to completely ignore [it] and concentrate on what we need to control."

McBryde said Wales are in a good place to end their Southern Hemisphere drought and defeat Australia.

Warren Gatland's side take on the Wallabies looking for a first win over the men in green and gold since 2008.

If they secure victory, it will be a big step for Wales as they look to end their year-end season with three wins from four matches.

And after Wales underwent their final preparations at their captain's run at the Millennium Stadium Friday, McBryde said the squad were raring to go.

"We've got no injuries to report, that was one of the best team runs we have had this autumn," he said.

"Our work as coaches has been minimal this week, short term a win would be a big step and we need to finish on a high.

"For this group of players, the next step is to be winning games against the top three."

This month has seen Wales give chances to a number of young players with Rhodri Jones, Cory Allen, Hallam Amos and Rhodri Williams all pulling on the Welsh jersey.

"It's a big step up in intensity but we've had a lot of youngsters come into the squad and I can only speak very highly of them, they've showed up very well in training," added McBryde.

"Looking at that 30-man squad for the Rugby World Cup, when you give an opportunity to someone, it's up to them to take it. These opportunities don't come around that often.

"Australia know the threat we have and I'm happy with the way the forwards have been going. It's going to be a tight, tough encounter and there will be a lot of pressure on the set piece."