Wallabies Have Changed Their Stripes, Warns Wales Coach Mike Forshaw

Mike Forshaw Wales. (Photo by David Rogers/Getty Images)

Wallabies Have Changed Their Stripes, Warns Wales Coach Mike Forshaw

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By David Parsons

Wales defence coach Mike Forshaw knows that the Australians will be a “different animal” to the side they dished out a record beating to at last year’s World Cup in France.

The Wallabies have a new coach at the helm in Joe Schmidt and will be looking to make a statement in the former Ireland coach’s first game in charge.

Wales ran riot in Lyon as they won 40-6, scoring three tries without reply, to progress to the quarter-final stages and send Eddie Jones side home early. But that was then, and the current Welsh squad is missing 14 of the matchday 23 from that great win 10 months ago.

“There has been a lot said about the Wallabies in the summer, but they will have parked all that by now. They will be a different animal and a different side to the last time we played them,” said Forshaw.

“They will be a lot more structured under Joe Schmidt and they will know exactly what they are going for. They have got a couple of players who can cause a threat – Wright at full back, the two nines are busy, and the outside half can challenge you with his footballing game.

“We’re expecting them to be pretty competitive on Saturday night. We took a lot of pressure off the Wallabies early in the game in Lyon, held them out and then we got a try off a set piece – everything went right for us on that day.

“We were white hot as a Wales team then, but we’ve lost 500-600 caps since then. It’s a long time since Wales won in Australia and they are a different team to play against over here.

“I’ve been on the wrong end of some bad results out here and once an Australian sports team gets its foot on the pedal they really know how to drive it. We will really have to be on our mettle.”

You have to go back to the very first meeting between the two countries in Australia in 1969 for the only Welsh win in the Wallabies back yard. Brian Price’s side travelled as Five Nations champions and won 19-16, but since then the Aussies have won 11 in a row.

Wales will go into the game having won four of the last five encounters against their hosts after breaking a run of 13 successive defeats. The current Welsh side is on a run of seven straight Test defeats and Forshaw is hoping for that record to change.

“We are in good shape, and I was proud of the boys in the game against South Africa. It was a quickfire week, but we stood up to the physical challenge and came away with a bit of pride,” added Forshaw.

“We’ve had a massive shift since the World Cup after losing a lot of senior players. We aren’t where we need to be yet, but at the end of this tournament I’d like to think we will have taken some steps forward.

“We’re in the business of winning rugby matches and we need to start winning matches. When that starts happening, and I’m confident it will, we can really develop over the next 12 months.”

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