Wales v Australia - Teams v Prediction
DESPERATION: Australia coach Dave Rennie has painted the Wallabies’ end-of-tour clash against Wales in Cardiff as a battle between two sides “desperate” to end difficult, injury-hit campaigns on a high.
Both Rennie and his Wales counterpart, fellow New Zealander Wayne Pivac, have had to chop and change their sides for the Principality Stadium clash on Saturday after the spring tour battles have left their squads with a heavy casualty list.
Rennie, out to avoid the ignominy of a first winless spring tour of Europe for 45 years, has made four changes to a team who lost their inspirational leader Michael Hooper to a foot injury in the loss to England.
Pivac’s side, having also lost their own warrior leader Alun Wyn Jones among 15 players made unavailable through injury, have been beaten by South Africa and New Zealand and struggled to down Fiji.
💛 Hard work pays off for Lalakai Foketi.
— Wallabies (@wallabies) November 18, 2021
When it was put to Rennie in Cardiff on Thursday that both sides, particularly the Welsh, would be desperate to win, he responded drily: “Yes, particularly the Australians.
“I understand that [desperation] after a couple of losses and finding their way past Fiji at the weekend – but we’re pretty desperate as well.
“We haven’t performed as well as we’ve needed to against Scotland and England, and we’re keen to make up for it.”
Rennie has brought in replacement flank Pete Samu to replace Hooper, trusting that he can bring his own “athletic edge” against Wales and suggesting he’s “more than equipped to do the job”.
And the team has been boosted with tighthead props Taniela Tupou and Allan Alaalatoa both overcoming head-knocks to line up, while hooker Tolu Latu has been promoted from the bench.
James Slipper, back at loosehead, will captain the side for just the second time, armed with high praise from Rennie.
“Everyone had told me what a high character man he is, and he’s salt of the earth, really impressive. Huge amount of respect in this group and people love him,” said Rennie.
“He genuinely cares about people and cares about this jersey, so it was a pretty easy choice to make him skipper.”
🗨️ With one game to go against Australia there is certainly a lot of excitement in the camp…
— Welsh Rugby Union 🏉 (@WelshRugbyUnion) November 18, 2021
Assessing the November campaign as a whole, Wales head coach Pivac said: “We have lost senior guys that would hurt any side.
“But it is great opportunities for guys, and some have come in and done very, very well. That has been a massive positive.
“To come up against the world champions [South Africa] in conditions that suited them, that was a huge effort from our players, particularly the forward pack, who are probably the most damaged in terms of loss of experience.
“And then to turn around and play that game against Fiji, which was always a very difficult and physical opponent.
“A win is what we are after, and I think a win over Australia would make it successful.”
Players to watch:
For Wales: Ellis Jenkins will lead out Wales once again against Australia, forming a back row with Taine Basham and the returning Aaron Wainwright, who slots in at No.8. In the backs in the backs where Tomos Williams returns to partner Dan Biggar in the half-backs. Josh Adams, a late withdrawal against Fiji, is back on the wing, with star fullback Liam Williams and try-scorer Louis Rees-Zammit joining him in the back three.
For Australia: James Slipper has to be in top form as he captains the Wallabies for the first time in Michael Hooper’s absence. The Tongan Thor Taniela Tupou is back fit and will start alongside Slipper and hooker Tolu Latu. Pete Samu has big shoes to fill as he replaces Hooper in the back row. In the backline, Filipo Daugunu makes his first appearance on the tour on the left-wing in place of Tom Wright.
Head to head:
Wales v Australia
Last 10 encounters
@rugby365com: Wales by three points.
Wales: 15 Liam Williams, 14 Louis Rees-Zammit, 13 Nick Tompkins, 12 Uilisi Halaholo, 11 Josh Adams, 10 Dan Biggar, 9 Tomos Williams, 8 Aaron Wainwright, 7 Taine Basham, 6 Ellis Jenkins (captain), 5 Seb Davies, 4 Adam Beard, 3 Tomas Francis, 2 Ryan Elias, 1 Wyn Jones.
Replacements: 16 Elliot Dee, 17 Gareth Thomas, 18 Dillon Lewis, 19 Ben Carter, 20 Christ Tshiunza, 21 Gareth Davies, 22 Rhys Priestland, 23 Johnny McNicholl.
Australia: 15 Kurtley Beale, 14 Andrew Kellaway, 13 Len Ikitau, 12 Hunter Paisami, 11 Filipo Daugunu, 10 James O’Connor, 9 Nic White, 8 Rob Valetini, 7 Pete Samu, 6 Rob Leota, 5 Izack Rodda, 4 Rory Arnold, 3 Taniela Tupou, 2 Tolu Latu, 1 James Slipper (captain).
Replacements: 16 Folau Fainga’a, 17 Angus Bell, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Will Skelton, 20 Lachlan Swinton, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Lalakai Foketi, 23 Tom Wright.
Date: Saturday, November 20
Venue: Millennium Stadium, Cardiff
Kick-off: 17.30 (17.30 GMT; 04.30 AEDT Sunday, November 21)
Expected weather: Slightly cloudy with a gentle breeze and High of 13°C and a low of 5°C.
Referee: Mike Adamson (Scotland)
Assistant referees: Mathieu Raynal (France), Nika Amashukeli (Georgia)
TMO: Marius Jonker (South Africa)
@rugby365com & AAP