Defence key to beating Wallabies: Gatland

Nov 9, 2017 - 5:13 PM Wales boss Warren Gatland is braced for a "pretty direct" approach from Australia when they host the Wallabies in Cardiff.

The Wallabies are chasing a 13th successive victory over Wales, and they will face a side containing three home Test debutants in wing Steff Evans, centre Owen Williams and flanker Josh Navidi.

Apart from their record against Australia since 2008, Wales have also not won the opening game of an autumn campaign for 15 years.

"Looking at the Australian team, I don't think they're going to be too worried about throwing the ball around," Gatland said. "I think they are going to be pretty direct.

"What is going to win Saturday's game is the defence. They have a massive midfield and two direct wings. If we don't tackle, it doesn't matter how many times we attack."

Seven of Wales' defeats to the Wallabies during the last nine years have been in Cardiff - and a number were by low single-figure margins - but captain Alun Wyn Jones is undeterred by the losing run.

"When we toured out there (in 2012) we lost by something like seven points across the three Tests," Jones said.

"I don't know what it is, I wouldn't say they are a bogey team. We have come very close to beating them, and in some games we felt we should have. It is not necessarily a curse."

Navidi packs down alongside back-row colleagues Aaron Shingler and Taulupe Faletau, while British and Irish Lions Test fullback Liam Williams is on the wing as Leigh Halfpenny retains the No.15 shirt.

Williams' selection alongside Dan Biggar represents a shift of tactical emphasis by Gatland as he fields two midfield playmakers.

It is an approach that Gatland operated with considerable success on the Lions' tour of New Zealand when Johnny Sexton and Owen Farrell filled those roles.

Gatland, who reached the 10th anniversary of his reign as Wales boss on Thursday, added: "It's a process over the next two years. We know when we have been together in World Cup campaigns just how competitive we have been.

"We should have made the final of the World Cup in 2011. We were decimated by injuries in 2015, but we were five minutes away from beating South Africa in a quarter-final.

"I just believe this team is capable of winning the World Cup, given their experience and age profile in two years' time. That is why we are trying to expose some younger players at the moment."

Source: AAP






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