Wales ready to right the wrongs after 'very honest' conversations
SPOTLIGHT: Wales newcomer Josh Macleod believes they are ready for Australia’s challenge after some “very honest” conversations following a humiliating defeat against Georgia.
Wales will end the international year – one scarred by home losses to Georgia and Italy – on Saturday by targeting a fourth successive victory over the Wallabies, who are itching to end their own disappointing European tour on a high.
But the playing squad, head coach Wayne Pivac and his staff are under enormous pressure in the aftermath of a result that Wales skills specialist Neil Jenkins described as being among his country’s darkest days.
Macleod made his Test debut in the 12-13 loss, but he is again likely to be involved in Wales’ matchday 23 against Australia.
Pivac names his team on Thursday, with a possible recall for world record cap holder Alun Wyn Jones headlining that selection.
And No.8 Taulupe Faletau is poised to make his 100th appearance for Wales and the British and Irish Lions as Pivac is set to rely heavily on experience.
Six expected starters – Jones, Faletau, fullback Leigh Halfpenny, centre George North, hooker Ken Owens and captain Justin Tipuric – have 626 Wales caps between them.
Wales, though, have won just three games from 11 starts this year, and even success against an injury-hit Australia might not be enough for Pivac to survive.
But there is also a piercing spotlight on Welsh Rugby Union chiefs, who must decide whether a change of coach is the right response just 10 months out from a World Cup.
Wales debriefed the Georgia debacle on Monday, and Scarlets forward Macleod said: “The conversations were very honest.
“It was a good day and we got a lot out of it. I think we have wiped that slate clean and now we are really pushing hard for Australia.
“As a squad, we were massively frustrated and disappointed with the result as a whole, but as Toby [Faletau] mentioned after the game, we are going to stick as one – management, players and staff.
“We’ve put Georgia to bed and all the disappointment with that, and we will move forward to this week with a positive attitude.
“Naturally, everyone says there will be a reaction after a defeat like that. Come Saturday, I am sure whoever takes the field will be ready.”
Macleod’s first cap was the only feelgood story to emerge for Wales as Georgia took centre-stage in Cardiff.