Two Kiwis And One Tight Head-To-Head Record As Wales Take On Australia

Coaches Joe Schmidt (l) and Warren Gatland. (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)

Two Kiwis And One Tight Head-To-Head Record As Wales Take On Australia

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By David Williams

Warren Gatland has revealed he used to try to rattle new Australian coach Joe Schmidt when he was in charge of Ireland.

The two Kiwis will resume their coaching rivalry in Sydney on Saturday with Gatland trying to end a run of seven straight defeats with Wales and Schmidt hoping to open his Wallaby account with a much-needed win.

Schmidt just shaded his 11 meetings against Gatland when he was in charge of Ireland – 5-4 with one drawn – and during his six year reign won three Six Nations titles, including a Grand Slam in 2018, and took Ireland to No 1 in the World Rugby rankings for the first time in their history.

Their last clash was at Principality Stadium in 2019 when Wales won their third Grand Slam under Gatland.

That was the day the heavens opened in Cardiff, but Schmidt demanded the stadium roof be left open.

“I couldn’t believe Ireland didn’t want to play with the roof shut and I don’t think all their players were 100% happy about it,” said Gatland.

“Every time we played Ireland their analysts would text me and ask me not to say anything in the press because Joe always read everything and it would upset him and make their lives a misery.

“I would then purposely say something to try to upset him. We go back a long way to when he was a scrawny winger who played for Manawatu.

“He had a little bit of pace and we actually played together in the New Zealand schoolteachers team together. He’s achieved a lot in the game and did incredibly well with Leinster and Ireland.

“I think he’ll bring structure and organisation to the Wallabies and provide them with some continuity and self-belief.

“He’s put a good coaching team together with Mike Cron, Laurie Fisher and Geoff Parling, who are all incredibly experienced guys who are well respected in the game.

“Hopefully, things will go well for Australia, but just not in the next couple of weeks!”

Wales posted a record 41-6 win over the Wallabies in their last meeting in a pool match at the 2023 World Cup in France.

In fact, Wales have won four of their last five games against Australia, although have to go back to 1969 for their one and only win over them on Aussie soil.

Schmidt has taken over from Eddie Jones as head coach and has wiped the board clean with his first selection.
There are seven uncapped players lined-up to face Wales at Allianz Stadium as the Wallabies take their first steps towards preparing for next year’s visit by the British & Irish Lions.

Wales have won only once in eight games since beating the Wallabies 10 months ago. Gatland is continuing with his policy of blooding youngsters and has given Cardiff centre Ben Thomas the chance to bid for the coveted No 10 jersey with his first start in that role.

Rookie Bath tight head prop Archie Griffin also gets his first start and will be facing James Slipper, who will become the most capped prop in rugby history when he makes his 135th appearance.

Gatland fields just three of the starters – Liam Williams, Gareth Thomas and Aaron Wainwright – that completed a demolition job on Australia last autumn.

There is a first cap for 20-year-old Gloucester back Josh Hathaway, who lines up on the wing.

Ben Thomas last played for Wales in 2021 and is normally a centre with Cardiff, but he now becomes Gatland’s sixth different starting number 10 since the New Zealander began his second stint as head coach ahead of the 2023 Six Nations.

Sydney-born Griffin starts at tighthead prop, with Gatland accepting it has become a testing position in terms of depth.

“Tighthead is one position that we are probably the most exposed at,” he said.

“We just haven’t had a consistent tighthead who is playing week in, week out. The last one was probably Tomas Francis, who is in France.

“He (Francis) hasn’t retired from international rugby, but we need to get someone on the field and develop some experience.

“Archie is explosive, and technically he is excellent. Unfortunately in the Six Nations he picked up an injury right at the start, so it is good to see him back.”

Number eight Wainwright, meanwhile, becomes the latest member of Wales’ 50-cap club, and Gatland added: “I just like the way he has grown as a player.

“After the game last week against the Springboks, (South Africa scrum-half) Faf de Klerk said ‘your number eight is a handful’.

“We have seen him grow with his footwork and carrying, and I have challenged him because I think there is another level in him.”

Wales vs Australia, Sydney (10.45am BST, Saturday 6 July)

Australia XV: 1 James Slipper, 2 Matt Faessler, 3 Taniela Tupou; 4 Jeremy Williams, 5 Lukhan Salakaia-Loto; 6 Liam Wright (capt.), 7 Fraser McReight, 8 Rob Valetini; 9 Jake Gordon, 10 Noah Lolesio; 11 Filipo Daugunu, 12 Hunter Paisami, 13 Josh Flook, 14 Andrew Kellaway; 15 Tom Wright.

Replacements: 16 Billy Pollard, 17 Isaac Kailea, 18 Allan Alaalatoa, 19 Angus Blyth, 20 Charlie Cale, 21 Tate McDermott, 22 Tom Lynagh, 23 Dylan Pietsch.

Wales XV: 1 Gareth Thomas, 2 Dewi Lake (capt.), 3 Archie Griffin; 4 Christ Tshiunza, 5 Dafydd Jenkins; 6 Taine Plumtree, 7 Tommy Reffell, 8 Aaron Wainwright; 9 Ellis Bevan, 10 Ben Thomas; 11 Rio Dyer, 12 Mason Grady, 13 Owen Watkin, 14 Josh Hathaway; 15 Liam Williams.

16 Evan Lloyd, 17 Kemsley Mathias, 18 Harri O’Connor, 19 Cory Hill, 20 James Botham; 21 Kieran Hardy, 22 Sam Costelow, 23 Nick Tompkins.

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