Gareth Anscombe has been warned by Warren Gatland to expect stiff competition for the Wales No.10 shirt against Australia.
Anscombe was given a rare starting opportunity at outside-half for the first of the autumn Tests against Scotland last weekend and responded with a confident performance.
But with Dan Biggar now back in contention for the first game that falls within the official Test window, Wales coach Gatland has hinted that change could be in the air.
“As a coaching team there is a real challenge in terms of who we are going to pick. I think every player has to be worried,” said Gatland.
“We have developed really good depth in the squad. There will be some rotation and Dan is going to get an opportunity in this campaign, but there were some really pleasing aspects from Gareth.
“His attacking was good, but some of our kicking from nine and 10 still needs to improve.”
Wales were deserved winners over a limited Scotland side, but Gatland admitted they will have to improve to beat Australia and he is right.
It’s 13 straight defeats – a run dating back to 2008 – for Wales against the Wallabies.
Anscombe, who hopes he’s done enough to retain the 10 shirt, said: “We needed the Scotland game against another team who were a bit rusty themselves,”
“Australia have had a long season, they’re battle-hardened, and they’ve had the wool over us over for the last few years. They are an exciting team, but recent defeats put them under pressure.
“They’ll come here and be positive. They are a good side away from home. We know we have to be better against the Wallabies. There is a lot for us to work on, but we’ll give it a crack.”
As for his performance against the Scots, Anscombe was relatively pleased he was able to lay down a marker – an objective he had spoken about before the game.
“There’s always pressure, but I didn’t want to force my hand too much. I wanted to nail my calls for the team and my parts of the game will always come up as the game opens up.
“I really wanted to take this opportunity. There were some good things, some bad. But it’s nice to be part of a win at home.
“Our attack will improve over the next few weeks and we know what we need to improve.”
Another aspect Anscombe hopes to be able to continue is his partnership with fellow New Zealander, Hadleigh Parkes.
The pair were Auckland Blues teammates six years ago before moving to Wales and the Cardiff Blues playmaker is keen to revive their old understanding.
“Me and Hadleigh are good mates. It’s nice to line up alongside him in a red jersey and if someone told us that four years ago, we’d never have believed them.
“It was really nice to get back inside him, he’s a cool head. We’ll keep trying to grow our combinations and improve. We’re looking forward to taking on the Aussies next week.
“I’m comfortable with Hadleigh at 12, I feel we can keep growing our combinations and partnership, and it worked nicely for the try. We’ll keep trying to grow our partnership and hopefully when we get the ball in our hands we can cause some trouble.”